Andrea Radrizzani has stoked up the row between Leeds United and Derby County over ‘Spygate’ by claiming the sale of Derby’s stadium to owner Mel Morris was “greater cheating”.
In comments made at the FT Business in Football summit and published in the Daily Telegraph, Radrizzani called for a tightening of the rules which allowed Morris to purchase Derby’s Pride Park and lease the ground back to the club.
Derby were able to record a profit of more than £14m after selling Pride Park for around £80m, keeping the club in line with the EFL’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) and Profit and Sustainability regulations.
Radrizzani himself used his own firm, Greenfield PTE, to purchase Leeds’ Elland Road ground after his takeover in 2017, though United have been leasing the stadium since 2004 and current pay no rent to the Italian.
Leeds and County came to blows in January during the Spygate dispute which ended with United receiving a fine of £200,000 after head coach Marcelo Bielsa admitted to sending scouts to watch rival clubs train.
Bielsa’s actions were covered by no specific rule but United were punished over a breach of “good faith” and a new regulation is expected to be introduced at the EFL’s annual general meeting this summer. Bielsa later revealed that he had paid the £200,000 fine personally.
Speaking at the Business in Football summit, Radrizzani said: “The rules should be revised if clubs (are) allowed to sell stadiums to sister companies. We should revisit those rules.
“We were judged as a cheating club when we sent a scout to watch training so they should take a similar view on what I would say is greater cheating by these clubs.
“I wish that the execs in the FA, EFL can shake this system to find a way to make the rules clear and the same for everyone.”
His comments come a week after Leeds were beaten by Derby in the Championship play-off semi-finals.
County’s manager, Frank Lampard, and a number of his players celebrated victory after the second leg at Elland Road with spying gestures towards the crowd.