"Serious and completely false statements". Leeds United's Angus Kinnear hits out at Championship rivals after 'Spygate' conclusion

Angus Kinnear has hit out at what he called “serious and completely false allegations” made during the ‘Spygate’ controversy and described calls for Leeds United to be hit with a points deduction as “patently ridiculous”.
Leeds Untied managing director Angus Kinnear.Leeds Untied managing director Angus Kinnear.
Leeds Untied managing director Angus Kinnear.

United’s managing director revealed that Leeds had been asked by the EFL whether they wanted to make formal complaints over comments made by officials of rivals Championship clubs while the case was ongoing.

The EFL concluded its investigation on Monday by punishing Leeds with a £200,000 fine after United admitted to breaching regulation 3.4, a rule which requires clubs to act in the ‘utmost good faith.’

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The governing body preparing to introduce a new regulation banning teams from watching each other train in the 72 hours before a match.

The dispute arose after a United scout was spotted outside Derby County’s training ground the day before Derby played at Elland Road on January 11.

Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa later admitted to having sent members of staff to watch every side in the Championship train this season.

United apologised to Derby when the matter first arose and said sorry again in a statement on Monday but the clubs were frustrated by aspects of the case, including Bristol City owner Steve Lansdown calling publicly for a points deduction and both Derby manager Frank Lampard and Norwich City director of football Stuart Webber alleging that Bielsa’s scout was carrying bolt cutters.

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The intern, who was spoken to by police on public land, was found to have secateurs in his car.

Writing in his programme notes today, Kinnear said: “The fact that other clubs chose to publicly make and leak more serious and completely false allegations was ironic when our ultimate charge fell under ‘treating member clubs with the utmost good faith’.

“The EFL pro-actively asked us whether we wanted to make formal complaints but we decided it was better to be the bigger person, despite clear breaches of the ‘utmost good faith’ standard.

“While a specific rule on training ground observation will undoubtedly be introduced this summer, it will be interesting to see whether regulation 3.4 becomes more literally applied to matters on the pitch or to the dark arts of the transfer market.”

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Bielsa and his scout were interviewed as part of concurrent investigations by the EFL and the Football Association. While the EFL imposed a fine on United, the FA chose to issues formal warnings to Bielsa, the scout and Leeds.

“Marcelo is an honourable man and could not have been more transparent and honest in assisting the process,” Kinnear said.

“He made it clear that watching opponents from publicly accessible land was acceptable and widespread in the countries where he has previously coached. Importantly, however, he also made it clear that he was prepared to be judged by the cultural standards of English football.

“Ultimately, no specific regulation had been broken and there was no precedent for a specific sanction which made the calls for a points deduction patently ridiculous. If the EFL had wanted to justifiably deduct Leeds United points then they should have done so last year for our attempted crest change.”