Leeds United: Suspended Steve Thompson protests his innocence

Steve Thompson.

Steve Thompson.

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Steve Thompson, the coach suspended by Leeds United in controversial circumstances last month, has spoken for the first time about his departure from Elland Road.

The 50-year-old protested his innocence and denied rumours that a fall-out with United sporting director Nicola Salerno led to his departure from Elland Road.

Thompson was unexpectedly suspended by Leeds in a letter signed by Salerno on April 2.

The reasons for the decision were never explained but the letter also informed him that his short-term contract at Elland Road would not be renewed when it expired on June 30.

Thompson is being assisted by the League Managers’ Association (LMA) and has maintained a strict silence for the past two months.

But speaking to FootballFanCast.com, he said: “There was no incident. I was suspended for no reason whatsoever.

“It’s been very upsetting. I can say with 100 per cent accuracy that I did absolutely nothing wrong.

“If I had done something wrong, I would have held my hand up and walked away but to suspend someone for nothing – I don’t work for people like that.”

Salerno quit Leeds shortly after Thompson’s exit and is no longer working for the club, although United have not formally announced his departure from the sporting director role.

Former club chairman Andrew Umbers - an existing board member at Elland Road - told the YEP last month that the moved to suspended Thompson has been solely down to Salerno but said the board had accepted the decision.

Umbers said: “He (Salerno) came to us and said there had been a breakdown in communication. A breakdown of trust. One or two other personal issues. These matters will be remaining internal.

“Steve Thompson had one boss, Nicola Salerno. That boss decided that Steve Thompson was not going to be part of our set-up. That was the decision he made and we supported that.”

Club owner Massimo Cellino was serving a Football League disqualification at the time and the Italian later claimed that he was unaware of the reasons for Thompson’s departure.

He spoke with Thompson in a telephone conversation after the end of his ban and Umbers attempted to invite Thompson to the club’s end-of-season awards ceremony. Thompson declined.

The former Huddersfield Town coach was appointed as assistant to ex-head coach Neil Redfearn in December and the pair oversaw a crucial upturn in form which helped United stave off relegation from the Championship.

Redfearn’s time as head coach ended last week with the appointment of Uwe Rosler. Ex-Leicester City manager Rob Kelly is poised to join Leeds as Rosler’s assistant.

The final weeks of Redfearn’s reign were plagued by problems, including the suspension of Thompson, pressure from the club’s board not to play striker Mirco Antenucci due to a clause in his contract and the contentious withdrawal of six foreign players through injury ahead of a 2-1 defeat at Charlton Athletic in April.

Thompson said: “You cannot work under those circumstances and (with) how things in the dressing room were. There are many things that are not right at that club.”

LMA chief executive Richard Bevan also turned his fire on Cellino this week, saying: “I’m not going to make a comment about existing staff there but what I can tell you is that there are ex-employees who are having to go through the legal process in order to sort out their contracts.

“I’m in the process of speaking to the FA and the Football League because it’s not a way to run a business.

“It’s not a way to run a football club and I think you’ll find 99 per cent of Leeds fans agree with me.”