Leeds United reject Derby County friendly proposal

Leeds will not face Derby County in a proposed friendly
Leeds will not face Derby County in a proposed friendly
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LEEDS UNITED have declined an invitation from Derby County to take part in an unprecedented friendly during the international break in March, the YEP understands.

The Elland Road club have chosen not to feature in a game which was proposed by Derby owner Mel Morris as part of an on-going challenge to the Football League’s television deal with Sky Sports.

Morris planned to use the friendly to demonstrate the earning potential of clubs outwith the restrictions imposed on them by the £100million contract agreed between the Football League and Sky.

Leeds, who engaged with their own fight with the Football League over television issues last season, were approached by Derby to participate in a fixture which would have fallen between crucial league games against promotion rivals Brighton and Reading.

Head coach Garry Monk was consulted on the idea and Leeds, whose senior management team planned to discuss the matter with Derby officials ahead of last Friday’s league game at Elland Road, have now rejected the proposal.

Commenting last month, Derby chief executive Sam Rush said the idea would “demonstrate the extent of the potential revenue opportunities that exist outside the parameters of normal broadcasting restrictions.”

Morris, like United owner Massimo Cellino, has grown increasing frustrated with the League’s confidential deal with Sky, believing the agreement fails to maximise the income of the governing body’s 72 clubs.

Cellino and Leeds took the League on in similar fashion last term, threatening at one stage to shut Sky’s cameras out of a Championship clash with Derby at Elland Road in December 2015 as a bitter dispute over scheduling intensified.

Cellino, who favours the idea of clubs being able to sell individual television rights, relented less than five hours before kick-off but subsequently took legal action in a bid to prevent Sky from rearranging a subsequent home game against Middlesbrough.

The Football League was forced to take out an injunction to ensure that fixture went ahead in a televised slot.

New Leeds co-owner Andrea Radrizzani, who bought a 50 per cent stake in United earlier this month, has an extensive background in sports media rights but he and others at Elland Road are believed to have held concerns about the effectiveness of a friendly in March.