If there is one thing you can say about Marcelo Bielsa, it’s that he is meticulous. It’s his almost obsessive behaviour that lead him to send a twenty-year-old intern to immerse themselves in opposition clubs the week before a game. Drinking in local pubs, reading local papers and yes, sometimes peeping over a fence from public land to check out the odd training session. It was all with the aim of getting under the skin of the opposition, finding out how fans would react in games.
But what for? Bielsa demonstrated to the media how much detailed information they already have for every opponent ahead of a game. What difference would these snippets of information from a twenty-year-old intern make? The likelihood is that they made very little difference. But Bielsa’s obsessiveness means he needs to know everything he can about an opposing team and in a results driven business who can blame him?
Given what little difference any of the ‘spying’ will probably have made the faux outrage from many washed up pundits clamouring to have their say was quite frankly embarrassing, Jermaine Jenas leader amongst the baying mob demanding a points deduction. With Leeds’ rivals baying for their pound of flesh and large numbers of regular fans saying everything had been blown out of proportion the EFL was somewhat stuck in the middle deciding if a vague rule had been breached and if so what the punishment should be.
Today’s news that Leeds have been found in breach of EFL Regulation 3.4 and been fined £200k seems harsh considering I still don’t think the club have actually done anything wrong, they certainly haven’t done anything that other teams have not done before. But a substantial fine should get the other Championship clubs off our backs but it doesn’t pander to the points deduction brigade. The joint statement from the EFL and Leeds United began…
After finalising its investigations into the incident at Derby County’s training ground on Thursday 10 January, the EFL reached the conclusion that the conduct undertaken by Leeds United in observing opponents’ training sessions, is a breach of Regulation 3.4.
Regulation 3.4 provides that ‘in all matters and transactions relating to the League, each Club shall behave towards each other Club and The League with the utmost good faith.’
Leeds United has fully co-operated with the EFL’s inquiries and following a comprehensive review of all the evidence provided, the Club has now formally admitted a breach of Regulation 3.4.
As a consequence the Club has been fined £200,000 (inclusive of a contribution to costs) and received a formal reprimand and warning to the effect that the Club’s conduct fell significantly short of the standards expected by the EFL and must not be repeated.
In addition, Leeds United has agreed to support a new EFL Regulation that make it clear that Clubs will be expressly prohibited from viewing opposition training in the 72 hours immediately prior to a fixture, unless invited to do so.
The EFL has informed all the Championship Clubs, who sought additional clarification regarding the conduct of Leeds United, of the findings that relate to their Club.
So, we can all move on and concentrate on football now. £200k may be an insubstantial amount of money but it seems worth it just for the look on Frank Lampard’s face. Though if the regulation in question states clubs must ‘behave towards each other with the utmost good faith’ then perhaps Lampard’s comments regarding the intern being stopped on Derby County land with a pair of wire cutters need to be looked into a bit further?
Some in the media have suggested that Marcelo Bielsa has gone down in their estimation since the spygate news broke but for most Leeds fans it has only heightened his legend. The man is an enigma and we bloody love him.