A criminal investigation has been launched at Leeds United – after new owner Massimo Cellino discovered spy cameras at the club’s Elland Road stadium.
The Yorkshire Evening Post understands police were called on Wednesday after the Italian ordered his team to conduct a security sweep of the ground.
In the latest shock development in the dramatic takeover saga, cameras were discovered secreted in the boardroom and toilets. That was not enough to prompt a criminal investigation. But it is understood a probe has now begun into claims thousands of pounds in club funds were fraudulently used to pay for the hi-tech kit. West Yorkshire Polic confirmed that they are investigating the alleged misappropriation of funds.
Head of crime for Leeds, Detective Superintendent Pat Twiggs, said: “We can confirm that police are investigating an allegation of theft relating to Leeds United Football Club following a report made by the club made on April 9.
“The investigation relates to an allegation of club funds being misappropriated for the purchase of technical equipment.
“Enquiries are at an early stage and we are not in a position to give any further information about the nature of the allegation.”
The installation of security cameras is not in itself illegal, unless they are used by voyeurs for sexual gratification.
However, officers began criminal inquiries when further investigations revealed potentially bogus invoices had been used to pay for the equipment.
No arrests have been made and the club has not yet commented on the investigation.
It is not known who had the cameras fitted.
Yesterday’s developments came at the end of a week in which the club appeared to be returning to relative stability following one of the most tumultuous periods in its history.
Cellino had initially failed to win his takeover bid after failing the Football League’s Fit and Proper Person test due to a previous conviction for tax fraud in Italy.
The 57-year-old businessman successfully appealed that decision and took over on Tuesday after his £35million deal to buy 75 per cent of Leeds from Bahrain bankers GFH was approved.
In a separate development, managing director David Haigh resigned from the club yesterday.
He left saying that he had no alternative “owing to various statements made by and on behalf of the new majority owners”.
A spokesman for GFH refused to comment on the theft investigation.