Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino backs out of plan to sell to fans

Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino appears to have done a U-turn on plans to sell the club to the supporters.

Cellino has decided to quit the club after a turbulent 18 months at the helm, which he describes as "a nightmare," during which he has sacked five managers and twice been banned from running the club by the Football League due to tax offences.

The Leeds Fans Utd group believed they had agreed a deal in principle to buy the club and were seeking a period of exclusivity to arrange a deal with Cellino, but after they asked for that to be made legally binding the Italian has changed his mind.

Cellino, who is currently appealing his latest Football League suspension, has already vowed not to attend any more Leeds games before the club is sold.

Former Southampton chairman Nicola Cortese is the latest name to be linked with the Championship club.

A statement released by the fans' group read: "Leeds Fans Utd has just been informed by the lawyers of Massimo Cellino that he no longer wishes to sell to Leeds fans. Our insistence on him confirming his verbal offer of exclusivity in a legally binding agreement has forced transparency on his motives.

"It is much better that we identify this insincerity now before we spend our shareholders' money.

"This exercise has proved our capacity to adapt to any acquisition scenario very quickly. We now know we have the capacity to do both a minority and majority deal, and it has shown that Leeds fans have a desire for fan ownership.

"We hope that Massimo will treat the club and fans with respect and honour."