Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa has revealed that he personally paid the £200,000 fine imposed on the club over the ‘Spygate’ dispute, saying he “violated the rules and was responsible.”
Bielsa outlined his decision to use his own money to meet United’s six-figure penalty by admitting he wanted to avoid “losing authority” over a saga caused by his scouting techniques.
Leeds were punished by the FA after a member of Bielsa’s coaching staff was stopped by police outside Derby County’s training ground in January, the day before Leeds and Derby met in a Championship game at Elland Road.
Bielsa admitted to sending the scout to the Midlands and said he had made attempts to watch every team in the division train, prompting a number of clubs to write to the EFL asking for a full investigation.
Leeds settled the matter in February by apologising and agreeing to pay a £200,000 fine, admitting that Bielsa’s actions were in breach of ‘good faith’.
EFL rules do not cover the privacy of training grounds but the organisation intends to introduce a new regulation this summer which will prevent clubs from watching rival sessions in the 72 hours before a match.
Bielsa, who railed against criticism of his integrity while that investigation was ongoing, confirmed today that he had offered his own cash as he picked apart a decision by the FA this week to ban Patrick Bamford for simulation but bring no charges against Aston Villa’s Conor Hourihane for a punch thrown at United’s Mateusz Klich last weekend.
The Argentinian described the two rulings as a “contradiction” but said he was wary of being seen to attack the authorities or a league which he came to for the first time when Leeds appointed him last summer.
“I don’t want to be judged as someone who belongs to the Championship and criticises the Championship,” he said.
“That’s why I paid the fine because I violated the rules and I was responsible. That’s why I have to clarify this, otherwise I lose authority. I’m giving you this information to respect some principles. As I’m responsible I paid the fine.
“The sanction that the federation gave us, £200,000, it’s a financial sanction which the club received. It’s a sanction against the club, not against me, but I’m responsible for it.
"That’s why I paid from my pocket.”