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Huge News Update: Leeds Sue the Football League

Chairman Ken BatesI knew this was coming, but it's huge nonetheless. Chairman Ken Bates has announced that Leeds United have begun legal action against the Football League over the 15-point penalty imposed on the team at the start of the season. If you're joining the epic Points Penalty Saga late, here's the background:

At the end of last season, Leeds were facing relegation from the Championship and were forced to declare bankruptcy. In the process of doing so, they allegedly violated Football League regulations on insolvency, and were docked 10 points in the Championship. The other teams in their new league, League One, then voted to dock Leeds an additional 15 points on August 3rd of last year.

Ken Bates and the rest of the United board have been trying to have the point penalty overturned for the last eight months. They first began an appeal through the Football League, which was an abysmal failure. This probably had something to do with the fact that appeal was decided upon by board members of rival teams in the League, all of whom have a vested interest in preventing Leeds from gaining promotion to the Championship at their expense. Considering the team's current form, a points penalty might be the only way to do that.

Leeds then requested independent arbitration from the national FA, but it looks like Ken Bates has decided to abandon that route and to take the League to court instead.

Bizarrely, Leeds have a written agreement with the Football League prohibiting them from taking legal action against each other. Leeds (and their army of lawyers) apparently reckon that, "European Union laws permit them to ignore the agreement and fight the 15-point deduction, which the club believe was a "wrongful decision".

This is Ken Bates in the Yorkshire Evening Post:

"We're suing the Football League for our 15 points because we believe, as we always have, that there was no justification for the penalty. The agreement we had saying we wouldn't take legal action was signed under duress. We were a couple of days from the start of the season and we wouldn't have been able to fulfil our fixtures without regaining our share in the Football League. In that situation, we either signed the document or we let ourselves be booted out of the League. But EU law says Person A cannot prevent Person B from going to court if it's to right a wrongful decision. We did ask the FA for independent arbitration but we've been waiting five months for them to do anything, and the whole thing is a shambles. We want an open and independent review of this decision, and the only way of ensuring that is by going to the High Court."

I have to hand it to Ken Bates: the man might be a lunatic, but he's managed to take a possibly corrupt and probably poorly-considered Football League decision and turn it into a national legal circus of epic proportions. There aren't many people who would even consider that as a viable route, let alone actually do it. Has an English football team ever sued its own league before? I'm pretty sure the answer is no - Leeds United, once again making history!