Football League launch formal investigation into Leeds over 'spygate'
An investigation has been launched after Bielsa's admission that he spied on Derby training
The English Football League has launched a formal investigation into the Leeds United 'spygate' row after the Championship leader's manager Marcelo Bielsa admitted before Friday's 2-0 win over Derby County that he knowingly sent a member of club staff to spy on the Rams in training.
A man was spotted by Derby staff 'acting suspiciously' outside of their training ground on Thursday last week, before being escorted off the premises by police. No arrest was made and the matter was referred to the football authorities.
In a statement on Tuesday, the EFL confirmed that the matter was being investigated.
"The EFL has today written to Leeds United requesting their observations in regard to an incident that took place in the vicinity of Derby County’s training ground on Thursday 10 January, 2019. It follows a complaint from Derby County who allege that an individual, acting under the instruction of Leeds United, sought to observe a private training session the day before the two clubs were due to meet in the Sky Bet Championship.
“The EFL has now determined that it is appropriate to consider this matter in the context of a number of EFL regulations whilst also noting that the alleged actions appear to contravene the Club’s Charter that all EFL clubs agreed to in summer 2018.
“The decision to progress this matter to a formal investigation comes as a result of the club’s manager, Marcelo Bielsa, admitting to instructing an individual to undertake the acts being complained of in a television interview broadcast on Sky Sports on Friday, January 11, 2019.
“The Football Association has also confirmed they are considering the same matter in line with its own rules and the EFL will work with its FA counterparts to ensure that any potential action taken does not prejudice those investigations being undertaken.”
Prior to Leeds' victory on Friday over Derby, Bielsa admitted that he was responsible for the member of his staff who had visited the training ground.
The topic was widely discussed by supporters and pundits, and was condemned by a number of former players and journalists.
Among those vocally against it were Jermaine Jenas and Martin Keown, who accused Bielsa of "cheating" and breaking "the moral code" of football respectively.
After Derby's defeat at Elland Road, manager Frank Lampard was visibly annoyed about the incident, saying that he doesn't think it was right.
"Of course I don't think it's right and I'm not sure anyone who's played sport at any level would think it's right. If it's a cultural thing I'm very surprised because I don't think it's right," said the former Chelsea midfielder.
"Cheating is a big word. If you talk about details and gaining advantages, great and good managers do that. But this one is over the line. It's not just a toe over the line, it's a hop, skip and a jump over the line.
"All managers are proud of what they do on the training ground. I've spent 15 hours watching Leeds this week and that's the game.
"So when somebody comes in on the sly to see you do team shape, team press and people who aren't playing, it's over the line.
"I was a fan of his from afar and have his book at home. You watch his career and he's very different in a good way, but it's not the way I do things.
"I'd rather not coach than send people undercover on their hands and knees with pliers and bolt cutters to go and look at the opposition because I respect the opposition."