The Massimo Cellino era could be set to end at Elland Road after supporters group Leeds Fans United agreed a deal in principle to buy a majority stake in the club.
The news comes in the wake of Thursday night’s tame 2-0 home defeat to Blackburn Rovers, which left the West Yorkshire club 18th in the Championship and without a home win in seven months.
The majority of the 19,500 fans in attendance at Elland Road chanted against controversial Italian owner Cellino, who said when he took over the club in April 2014 that he would leave the day supporters turned against him.
And chairman Cellino told BBC Radio Leeds: “100% I will sell to the fans, if they want to buy it and look after the club.
“The fans are the only asset the club has.”
The Italian, currently appealing against a second Football League ban, is thought to have met with fans on Friday as he looks for a way out of Elland Road, having this week told The Times that his tenure had been “a nightmare”.
A tweet from Leeds Fans Utd on Friday evening stated: “Leeds Fans Utd has today reached agreement in principle with Massimo Cellino to purchase a majority stake in Leeds United Football Club.”
Leeds Fans United has long had the aim of buying a minority stake in the club and securing representation on the board, and Friday’s developments put it within touching distance of achieving that goal.
Earlier this month the Italian was banned for a second time for breaching the Football League’s owners’ and directors’ rules following a conviction for tax evasion this year.
Cellino, who has three further criminal cases against him still outstanding, had until October 28 to contest the punishment and he submitted the necessary paperwork ahead of Wednesday’s deadline.
A statement from the Football League said: “The Football League can confirm that the legal representatives of Leeds United president Massimo Cellino have lodged an appeal against his recent disqualification under the League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test.
“The appeal will be heard in due course by an independent League Arbitration Panel.”
Cellino served his previous ban from January until May, having been found guilty of failing to pay VAT on a yacht.
If he is unsuccessful with his latest appeal, the 59-year-old, who took over at Elland Road in April 2014, will be unable to take part in the day-to-day running of the club, forcing him to pass control to someone else.
However, he is able to continue in his role until the appeal is heard.
The Football League has yet to confirm the length of any ban but it is thought it would end in June 2016, 12 months from the date of his conviction when it will be spent under English law.
Will you be pleased to see the Massimo Cellino era end at Leeds? Discuss this on the Leeds United Your Say forum.