Cagliari chief Cellino leaves jail for house arrest

Cagliari President Massimo Cellino has been released from prison and put under house arrest as part of the investigation into the Is Arenas where the Serie A club have been staging their games.

The Court of Review granted his request to be released on Thursday, also freeing Mauro Contini, the mayor of Quartu Sant'Elena, the district where the stadium is located, and his public works councillor Stefano Lilliu.

The three, who were placed under house arrest, had been arrested two weeks ago and charged with embezzlement and false representation in the rebuilding of the stadium which became the Sardinian club's home at the start of the season.

They were refused bail last Friday by the judge presiding over the preliminary hearing.

The small Is Arenas stadium, which hosted third-tier matches in the 1980s, has only one permanent stand.

Three temporary stands were built but Cagliari's opening match against Atalanta had to be staged behind closed doors after local authorities ruled the stadium was not ready.

The following match, against AS Roma, was cancelled by the Cagliari city government after the club defied its orders to play without supporters.

On that occasion, Cellino told fans the ground was safe, invited them to turn up for the match and accused the city government of placing bureaucratic obstacles in the club's way.

Roma were awarded a 3-0 win but Cellino won a court case last week which could lead to the game having to be played after all.

Cagliari were banned from hosting a game against champions Juventus in the stadium and had to switch that fixture to Parma. Their match against AC Milan on February 10 was initially set to be moved to Turin amid security worries but eventually went ahead at the stadium after a regional tribunal ruled it was safe.

Cagliari played at the Stadio Sant'Elia from 1970 until halfway through last season but abandoned the arena due to disagreements with the local authorities and growing safety worries.

They played their remaining matches last term in Trieste, near the border with Slovenia and nearly 1,000 kilometres away on the Italian mainland.

Last Sunday Cagliari beat Torino 4-3 behind closed doors, after the club asked fans to stay away from the stadium.