LEEDS UNITED have been hit with a £200,000 fine by the Football League over ‘Spygate’ and issued with a formal reprimand for behaviour that “fell significantly short of the standards expected”.
The governing body’s punishment and promise to bring in a new rule covering the privacy of training grounds brings to an end a saga that began last month when a member of head coach Marcelo Bielsa’s staff was stopped by police outside Derby County’s training ground.
We apologise for acting in a way that has been judged culturally unacceptable in the English game and would like to thank Shaun Harvey and the EFL for the manner in which they conducted their investigations.Leeds United statement
Derby – who were subsequently beaten at Elland Road – formally complained to the League and a letter signed by 11 Championship clubs was subsequently submitted demanding a full inquiry.
A points deduction was never a possibility as current League regulations do not govern the privacy of training grounds.
Leeds have accepted the punishment and will not appeal. The League stated from the outset that Leeds could be in breach of the club charter and had potentially contravened regulation 3.4, stating that clubs “shall behave towards each other club and the League with the utmost good faith”.
Bielsa admitted not only to sending a member of staff to watch Derby train on the eve of their visit to Elland Road, but also all the other Championship clubs.
League chief executive Shaun Harvey said: “The sanctions imposed highlight how actions such as this cannot be condoned and act as a clear deterrent should any club seek to undertake poor conduct in the future.
“We will now look to move on from this incident and commence the discussions about introducing a specific regulation at a meeting with all clubs later this month.”
A Leeds spokesman added: “We accept that whilst we have not broken any specific rule, we have fallen short of the standard expected by the EFL with regards to regulation 3.4.
“We apologise for acting in a way that has been judged culturally unacceptable in the English game and would like to thank Shaun Harvey and the EFL for the manner in which they conducted their investigations.”
The Spygate verdict came at the end of a day that had seen United’s promotion hopes suffer a blow after scans revealed Kemar Roofe had suffered knee ligament damage in last week’s victory over Stoke City.
No timescale has been put on Roofe’s likely return but United insist he can still feature during the run-in.
Roofe has netted 14 goals this season. But the former Oxford United man has recently been deployed as a number ‘10’ to accommodate a fit-again Patrick Bamford up front.