Cellino conviction could prevent Leeds takeover

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CAGLIARI, Sardinia (AP) -- Cagliari president Massimo Cellino's chances of taking over fallen English power Leeds were hurt by a tax evasion conviction on Tuesday.

Cellino was ordered by a judge to pay a 600,000 euro ($800,000) fine for evading import taxes on a yacht he purchased in the United States and brought to Italy, the ANSA news agency reported.

Eleonora Sport Ltd., which is run by the Cellino family, has been awaiting approval to purchase a 75 percent stake in Leeds.

However, the Football League's "owners and directors' test" prevents anyone with a court conviction from being a director, a 30 percent owner, or from exercising control over one of its clubs.

A Football League statement said it had noted the outcome of the hearing involving Cellino.

"We are engaged in an ongoing dialogue with his legal representatives in this country and cannot comment further at this time," a league spokesman said.

Cellino denies wrongdoing and will probably appeal.

Last year, Cellino was arrested as part of a stadium construction investigation.