Spygate, a ridiculous finding, a ridiculous fine!

19 Feb 2019 08:49 pm, by YorkshireSquare

Let’s face it, it is a ridiculous fine which is appalling giving the much lower fines for previous examples that are far worse; bugging changing rooms, getting team sheet information from someone at the opposition club etc. Crystal Palace received a £25,000 fine from the Premier League in 2014 following allegations that Cardiff City’s team sheet was leaked to them ahead of a match between the sides. The Premier League, in fining Crystal Palace, must have believed and had some evidence that the team sheet was leaked.

Surely it was a far worse offence as it involved a Cardiff employee, possibly a player, giving the opposition information? This is far worse than someone observing a team (or teams) training from a public place (no actual offence) or trying to get opinion from opposition fans (if the rumours about a Leeds employee mingling in pubs with opposition fans prior to games is to be believed). Yet the fine was 1/8th of what Leeds have been given.

It’s a ridiculous finding given no rule was actually broken and the only rule even close to applying to the incidents is so hopelessly vague it could apply to just about anything. But it seems that because it is Leeds they have decided to make an example of us. But the whole decision is absurd, forget that it is Leeds for a moment, that is irrelevant. If it was such a black and white case that 'spying' was such a terrible offence then it should have been in the rules. There are rules in place with set punishments that are far smaller so if it such a big deal then there should have been a rule in place.

Teams know that spying goes on. Otherwise why would the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United have training facilities where the public cannot get anywhere near the pitches? Presumably if the Premier League don't have a ruling then the Premier League is basically saying it is up to individual clubs to make their training pitches secret. So that would suggest that it would be okay for a Premier League club to observe another club training if they didn't have security in place. As such is it then okay to spy if you are in a league where clubs have more money and should be able to afford proper training facilities away from prying eyes?

Derby have recently made their training facilities more secretive so are they now saying they expect other clubs to spy? If as a club you were so concerned with the opposition not seeing you train in the couple of days leading to a match then you can train indoors with complete secrecy you could even train at your own stadium and don't let anyone in. As it is your own stadium you can block off any parts where people might be able to peek in from outside. Basically, if you don't want someone to be able to see your training session then don't have a training pitch next to a public road or golf course.

Following the EFLs judgement will all the clubs that have security around their training pitches now simply do away with it and terminate the employment of their security officials? Obviously it isn't needed and apart from if they'd played Leeds this season would have never been needed anyway. I am sure Derby are feeling foolish having recently wasted money to make it harder for people to see their pitch from the public road as obviously no other club or even any member of the public would even look that way when on the road.

There is a good chance other teams have spied on Leeds in the past, not that they'd need to as Marcelo Bielsa regularly invites people to watch us train and I doubt he'd turn anyone away even if they turn up wearing the tracksuit of the club we were about to play. He knows spying goes on which is why he names his team early, he knows that the opposition will know his line-up well before the match whether he reveals it or not.

The only good thing to come out of this is that the fine isn't ridiculously high. It’s high in comparison to the ludicrously low fines handed out for other offences yes. But in footballing terms it is low. It seems like there was negotiation between the EFL and Leeds so that the fine was at a level we would accept but also a that didn’t make the EFL look weak and incompetent. Interestingly the £200k fine includes costs so the actual fine could be considerably lower. For all we know the costs included may even include our own legal fees too making the fine even smaller, it could even be the case that the fine is hardly anything as legal costs can be extremely high.

At least it is now all over. Some on the EFL board probably wanted to punish us more harshly, but this has been a compromise deal for them to punish us and save face. Our solicitors would likely have had a field day with them had the punishment been any harsher. With there having been no specific rules in place the EFL wouldn't have had a leg to stand on if we had taken things further.

Content by weasel from our Spying Accusation discussion thread.