EFL delay decision over ‘Spygate’ - as Leeds United look to “resolve the matter quickly”

The EFL is to carry out fresh enquiries into the ‘Spygate’ saga after failing to reach a decision over whether Leeds United should face any punishment.

Friday, 8th February 2019, 5:21 pm
Updated Saturday, 9th February 2019, 7:33 pm
Marcelo Bielsa, pictured on the touchline at Elland Road when Leeds United played Derby County on January 11. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

A meeting of the EFL’s board, which began yesterday and ran into today, concluded that additional investigation was necessary to bring the dispute to a head.

The governing body issued a holding statement tonight, saying there were “a number of areas that require further exploration and clarification.”

Leeds, who were in the dark about the EFL’s intentions until late this afternoon, had braced themselves for an announcement over possible charges ahead of their game against Middlesbrough tomorrow but the case is set to drag on towards the end of the Championship season.

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Derby County boss Frank Lampard. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

United responded by saying: “We understand the EFL’s need to request more time to investigate the complaint further and we will continue to cooperate fully as we look to resolve the matter quickly.”

The EFL said the new inquiries would begin “at the earliest opportunity.”

Its statement read: “Following a comprehensive review of all available evidence, it was determined that there remain a number of areas that require further exploration and clarification and these investigations will take place at the earliest opportunity.

“An update on this matter will be provided following receipt and analysis of those subsequent enquiries and until this point no further comment will be made.”

United have been under scrutiny from both the EFL and the Football Association since a scout working for head coach Marcelo Bielsa was questioned by police after being stopped outside Derby County’s training ground on January 10.

The incident came 24 hours before Derby lost 2-0 at Elland Road and led to questions about Bielsa’s methods of opposition analysis. The Argentinian subsequently admitted that he had used staff members to watch every side in the Championship train this season.

A formal complaint by Derby was followed by a collective letter sent to the EFL by 11 Championship teams, demanding a full inquiry and asking for details of the scouting trips sanctioned by Bielsa.

Bielsa and the scout concerned have been interviewed by the FA and Leeds responded to a request for information from the EFL at the beginning of last week. The EFL’s board met yesterday and discussions spilled into today without a resolution.

Three Championship directors are on the EFL board - Bristol City’s Mark Ashton, Reading’s Nigel Howe and Brentford’s Cliff Crown - but were excluded from deliberations over ‘Spygate’

Bristol City owner Steve Lansdown called publicly for Leeds to be punished with a points deduction last month.