The Football League plans to bolster its ranks at the top level by appointing an additional director to its board. They plan to recruit in an independent non-executive director, increasing the numbers on the main board to nine people. The Board act as an overall steering committee for what is in effect a private members' club.
The board currently includes two independent directors, including Chairman Greg Clarke. There are also six elected directors who are drawn from member clubs - three from Championship clubs, two from League One clubs and one from League Two clubs. They will now look for a third independent director, and will advertise the position externally. Clarke explained the League's thinking:
"It is important that The Football League continues to review and refine its governance structure and processes to ensure they work as effectively as possible. The use of independent directors brings greater continuity to the Board, as well as additional skills and knowledge. Richard Bowker and before him, Ian Ritchie, have both made significant contributions as independent directors and I look forward to working with the successful candidate in future."
The current board members are as follows:
Greg Clarke - Chairman
Richard Bowker - Independent Non-Executive Director
Karl Oyston - Blackpool
Keith Lamb - Middlesbrough
Andy Ambler - Millwall
John Nixon - Carlisle United
James Rodwell - Notts County
Ian Lenagan - Oxford United
The current League board have been coming under fire from all sides in their much-delayed handling of Leeds United's takeover - particularly given that it is understood to be looking into by Football League CEO Shaun Harvey, who had previously been the Leeds CEO under previous owner Ken Bates. This week saw the man who would like to take over the Elland Road club - Massimo Cellino - found guilty of tax evasion in an Italian court which brought into doubt whether he would pass the League's Fit and Proper Person's Test.
Cellino, who also was given a 15-month suspended sentence in 2001 for false accounting at his Italian club Cagliari, had agreed a £25 million package to take over the club. Whilst that 2001 conviction appears not to have been enough to trip over the League's rules, this latest conviction ought to have been given that The Guardian notes that Directors and Owners are disqualified if:
"They have unspent convictions for offences of dishonesty, corruption, perverting the course of justice, serious breaches of the Companies Act or conspiracy to commit any of those offences."
The Football League's current position is that they have asked the Court in Sardinia for the paperwork from the case, and indicated that they would make a decision within ten days over whether Cellino can be allowed to take over the club. Current Leeds owners GFH reacted negatively to this, as they are anxious to have the financial burden of running the club taken off their shoulders, telling the League on Thursday:
"Leeds United have this morning sent a letter to the Football League, demanding that the Football League hands out its decision by the close of play (on Thursday). This is an unprecedented delay which is damaging the owners' ability to move the club forward."
Football fans may raise an eyebrow at GFH claiming that Leeds will be 'damaged' by the delay on the case, yet not 'damaged' by an owner taking over who has false accounting and tax evasion convictions. Regardless, the Football League have remained unmoved by GFH's complaints so far. If the League do let Cellino buy the club, then their Fit and Proper Persons Test will become a worthless rule - but if they don't then the belief that GFH have stopped directly funding the Yorkshire club could raise alarm bells as to Leeds' future thereafter.
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