The Football Association is to investigate claims that a member of staff at Leeds United was confronted by police after acting suspiciously outside Derby County’s training ground in the build-up to tonight’s game at Elland Road.
The governing body said it would look into allegations made by Derby that a man spoken to by officers with Derbyshire police on Thursday morning is on the payroll at Leeds.
Police were called to Derby’s training ground after the Championship club raised concerns about the presence of man outside the complex’s perimeter fence.
The individual, who was reported to have been carrying binoculars and a pair of pliers, was confronted to by police but was not arrested and left after what the constabulary called “routine checks”.
Derby, however, moved to point the finger at Leeds this afternoon, a matter of hours ahead of their visit to Elland Road.
The incident, which saw manager Frank Lampard suspend a training session, has prompted suggestion that United were spying on County in preparation for a key league game.
Tonight, the FA said: “We are aware of the incident at Derby County’s training ground and we will be investigating the matter.”
The EFL said earlier in the day that is was yet to receive any contact or complaint from Pride Park.
An EFL statement read: “We are aware of the reports in relation to an incident at the training ground of Derby County.
“It is, of course, up to Derby County as to how they progress this matter but as of yet we have received no complaint or contact from the club.”
United head coach Marcelo Bielsa is known to have used covert analysis of opposition training sessions during his time as coach of Newell’s Old Boys in the 1990s but Leeds have as yet made no response to Derby’s claims.
Derby’s statement said: “Derby County can confirm that officers from the Derbyshire Constabulary were called to the Derby County training centre at around 11.20am on Thursday, January 10 following reports of a man acting suspiciously outside the premises.
“It has since been confirmed to Derby County that the individual concerned is an employee of the footballing staff at Leeds United. The club is now in discussion with Leeds United club officials in relation to this incident.”
Leeds, who are first in the Championship, host sixth-placed Derby in a 7.45pm kick-off tonight.