Leeds United issue apology to Derby following spying incident

Leeds United issue apology to Derby following spying incident as owner Andrea Radrizzani talks to his counterpart Mel Morris

  • Leeds United have issued a statement after a spy was found at Derby County 
  • The club’s owner Andrea Radrizzani personally spoke to his counterpart 
  • Radrizzani apologised on behalf of the club and vowed to reinstall integrity
  • Manager Marcelo Bielsa accepted full responsibility for the incident on Friday 

Richard Gibson For The Mail On Sunday

Leeds United offered a formal apology to Championship rivals Derby as Frank Lampard called for action to prevent spying becoming common practice.

In their statement, Leeds also said they would be reminding Marcelo Bielsa — who took full responsibility for sending a member of staff on Thursday’s reconnaissance mission to Derby’s Moor Farm training base — about the need for integrity and honesty.

The Football Association have launched an inquiry into the furore that marred the Yorkshire club’s 2-0 victory at Elland Road on Friday night, although the unprecedented nature of the situation means it is unlikely any rules have been broken. 

Leeds United have issued an apology for their role in the spying incident with Derby County

Leeds United have issued an apology for their role in the spying incident with Derby County

LEEDS ‘SPYGATE’ STATEMENT

Following comments made by Marcelo Bielsa yesterday the club will look to work with our head coach and his staff to remind them of the integrity and honesty which are the foundations that Leeds United is built on.

Our owner Andrea Radrizzani has met with Derby County’s owner Mel Morris to formally apologise for Marcelo’s actions.

We will make no further comment on this matter.

Although watching opponents prepare is widespread in places such as South America — as Bielsa made clear in his post-match explanation — such conduct has rocked English football’s moral code.

It led to United chairman Andrea Radrizzani talking to Derby counterpart Mel Morris face to face before the issuing of a club statement that read: ‘Following comments made by Marcelo Bielsa on Friday, the club will look to work with our head coach and his staff to remind them of the integrity and honesty which are the foundations that Leeds United is built on.

‘Our owner Andrea Radrizzani has met with Derby County’s owner Mel Morris to formally apologise for Marcelo’s actions. We will make no further comment on this matter.’

Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani personally met with Derby chief Mel Morris to apologise

Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani personally met with Derby chief Mel Morris to apologise

Bielsa stopped short of apologising when he phoned Lampard following the apprehension of the unnamed Leeds employee by Derbyshire police on Thursday afternoon, simply owning up to sanctioning the covert reporting.

The Argentinian has since said he must respect the expected moral code of the country in which he is employed but added that it would be a ‘childish response’ to vow never to do it again.

Lampard believes strong action is required when the Football Association hierarchy pick up the matter on Monday morning, to prevent an espionage epidemic. 

However, while the FA are investigating the matter it remains unclear whether their rule book has been breached. 

It is clear that spying on training is nothing new, but there hasn’t been as blatant and high profile a case in recent times so no precedent exists, and no specific regulations relate to the matter.

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa took full responsibility for the spy storm ahead of Derby clash

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa took full responsibility for the spy storm ahead of Derby clash

The incident overshadowed Derby's visit to Championship leaders Leeds on Friday night

The incident overshadowed Derby’s visit to Championship leaders Leeds on Friday night

Mateusz Klich celebrated with Kalvin Phillips by mimicking a pair of binoculars after the game

Mateusz Klich celebrated with Kalvin Phillips by mimicking a pair of binoculars after the game

‘We can’t open the door to this happening every week,’ argued Lampard, who sees the training ground as sacrosanct. ‘What kind of farce would that be if everybody sent undercover people, drones etc into training? 

‘I know for a fact that teams like Manchester City and Chelsea are ultra-secretive about what they do — what is filmed and what is not — because that’s how it should be. How you train, how you prepare is yours and you take it to a match day.’

Derby’s former England goalkeeper Scott Carson, who began his career at Leeds, reckons FA bosses should throw the book at Bielsa.

He said: ‘This is England and I don’t think other teams and other managers do that sort of stuff.

‘It was hard to believe it happened really because it’s not something that I’ve ever seen before in football. It’s obviously something they’ve been doing all season and it needs to be looked at. It they’re doing it against us then they’re obviously doing against other clubs.’


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