Leeds United's FA snub over points penalty

Leeds United's request for a High Court hearing into their 15-point deduction has been met with a stinging refusal from the Football Association.

Officials at Soho Square have categorically dismissed United's demand for a legal review of their pre-season penalty after being asked by Leeds to refer the case to the High Court last week.

The FA received communication from Elland Road on Friday, but the governing body responded quickly today by confirming that they would not initiate an independent investigation into the unprecedented punishment.

United have in turn announced that the FA's unyielding stance will now force them to begin arbitration proceedings against the governing body.

A statement from Leeds read: "If they refuse this request, we will commence independent arbitration proceedings, in accordance with FA regulations. We shall continue to pursue this matter step by step."

The validity of United's deduction – imposed by the Football League following the club's exit from administration in August – has already been considered twice by the FA, who supported the League's decision on both occasions.

Leeds' first application was rejected by Jonathan Hall, the FA's director of governance, and the governing body have confirmed that the club's second approach – including a appeal for an official inquiry – was turned down after being considered by the Football Regulatory Authority (FRA).

The FRA is a semi-autonomous body which includes four independent members alongside members of the professional and national game.

United's request for a Commission of Inquiry was subsequently rejected by the FRA's chairman, who the FA said sought independent legal advice before taking his decision.

The failed attempts to secure the support of Soho Square led United chairman Ken Bates to ask for a referral to the High Court, 24 hours after the FA promised a "root and branch" examination of their operations in the wake of the sacking of ex-England coach Steve McClaren.

But in a statement released to the Yorkshire Evening Post, the FA insisted United's case would not be affected by the "root and branch" review, and the governing body warned Bates that the responsibility for launching legal proceedings against the FA or the Football League lay solely with Leeds.

The statement read: "The decision on whether to refer the matter to the High Court is a matter for Leeds and not the FA.

"The FA has previously pointed out to Leeds that if it wishes to challenge the decision of the chairman of the FRA then Leeds would have to commence arbitration proceedings against the FA, under FA Rules. This matter has nothing to do with the "root and branch" examination of the England team set-up. In fact, the role of the FRA and its chairman arises as a result of the structural changes made to the FA following the recommendations of Lord Burns.

"In September, the club asked the FA to inquire into the Football League's decision to deduct them 15 points. The FA's director of governance did so and informed Leeds that nothing that Leeds had raised with the FA indicated that the Football League had acted improperly.

"The club then asked for a Commission of Inquiry to be set up to look at the matter. The matter was referred to the chairman of the FRA, as under FA Rules the decision whether or not to open a Commission of Inquiry rests with that person.

"The chairman of The FRA, having considered the matter carefully and taken external legal advice, replied to Leeds stating that there was no reason to review the Football League's handling of the case; his reply also explained in depth why he had reached that decision."

The FA's response also denied United's claim that director of corporate affairs Simon Johnson had been responsible for dismissing both of the club's previous appeals, a claim which appeared to raise concerns over the impartiality of the governing body's decision-making process.