• ‘We have a great group of players, a great manager and set-up’ • United owner says plans for former stadium’s redevelopment will start this summer
The Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has claimed he wants the Championship club back in the Premier League within the next five years.
The Italian bought the club in April 2014 and was convicted of tax evasion but an Italian court overturned the conviction in May 2016 and he is due to return to the club this season.
Cellino has already taken a £45m loan from the Kuwaiti majority shareholder Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Dubai Al-Ahli, and is expected to put £15m down on the playing budget for a Championship campaign which starts on Saturday with a home match against Aston Villa.
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Cellino said the team is in a “good” position and expects to return to the Premier League sooner rather than later.
“There are still a lot of people who don’t think Leeds can get back to the Premier League but I am not one of them,” Cellino told the Yorkshire Evening Post. “We have a great group of players, a great manager and a great set-up. We should be back in the Premier League within five years.
“It will probably be difficult to get promoted through the Championship again because the top two teams are going to be fighting it out for the automatic places. But, as we have demonstrated, we can still compete and get into Europe.
“It has been a tough few years. We have had some bad news, but I believe in fighting against the odds and I don’t like to give up. I know what I am doing and I know what I want.
“I cannot promise anyone a big summer but we have a clear plan and a clear strategy to get back into the Premier League as soon as possible.”