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Cellino agrees to sell Cagliari to U.S. investment fund

MILAN (Reuters) - Cagliari president Massimo Cellino has agreed to sell the Sardinian-based Serie A club to an unnamed United States investment fund, he told the ANSA news agency on Wednesday.

Cellino, who bought control of second-tier English soccer club Leeds United in April, said it was up to the new owners to fight with the local bureaucracy over the club’s stadium.

“We have reached an agreement and we have drafted a letter of intent providing for their entry into the company," Cellino told ANSA in Miami after the meeting.

"Now, they are the ones who will have to fight against the bureaucracy... I hope they don't do to them what they've done to me." Cellino, who took over Cagliari in 1992, has spent the last three years battling local authorities over a stadium for the club.

Cagliari left the dilapidated municipal Sant'Elia ground during the 2011/12 season after a disagreement with local authorities.

For 2012/13, they moved to the small Is Arenas stadium, which had previously hosted third tier matches in the 1980s, but had trouble from the outset.

Several games were played behind closed doors for safety reasons and one match was called off when Cellino defied the authorities and sold tickets, which earned him a four-month ban.

At one point, Cellino was arrested and charged with false representation in a case connected with the stadium.

Cagliari returned to Sant'Elia this season but its capacity was limited to 5,000 fans, mainly packed in behind one of the goals, because of rebuilding work.

They have also played a number of games in Trieste, about 1,000 km away on the mainland near the border with Slovenia.

Cagliari have been in Serie A for most of Cellino's reign, although they spent the 1997/98 season in Serie B and then another four seasons in the second tier from 2000 to 2004.

The high point came when they reached the UEFA Cup semi-finals in 1994.

(Reporting by Brian Homewood in Basel; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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