One day, Leeds United will be a “normal” football club. This is not that day.
Yesterday, Derbyshire Police detained, and then released, a man who was acting “suspiciously” outside of Derby County’s training ground. No damage was done, and it appeared that no laws had been broken.
Of course, the story does not end there, as today Derby put out a statement claiming that the man in question was a member of the Leeds footballing staff.
Derby County have confirmed that the person police spoke to acting suspiciously outside their training ground was an employee of Leeds United's football staff.— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 11, 2019
More: https://t.co/mTh4RuklcN pic.twitter.com/RmemjxLAnS
Per Derby’s official website:
Derby County Football Club can confirm that officers from the Derbyshire Constabulary were called to the Derby County Training Centre at around 11:20am on Thursday 10th January 2019 following reports of a man acting suspiciously outside the premises.
It has since been confirmed to Derby County that the individual concerned is an employee of the footballing staff at Leeds United Football Club.
The club is now in discussion with Leeds United club officials in relation to this incident.
At this time no further comment will be made.
EFL statement on Leeds-Derby saga: governing body says it is "up to Derby County how they progress this matter" but as yet, EFL has received no contact or complaint from Derby. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 11, 2019
The EFL has stated that the matter is up to the two clubs to resolve, and, as of right now, it will not be taking any action. As of right now, Derby has yet to contact the EFL about the matter, and it is unclear what, if anything, will be done by the footballing authorities about the matter.
If Derby lodge complaint over spygate then Leeds could be in breach of EFL regulation that clubs must behave with "utmost good faith" towards each other. No specific sanction stipulated pic.twitter.com/dvBZczBtH7— Martyn Ziegler (@martynziegler) January 11, 2019
As usual with the rules governing football, there is an unclear clause without any guidance over what, if any, punishment should be levied for a breach of the rules. The “good faith” rule is extremely broad and unless there has been previous punishment or guidelines put down, it will be impossible to determine just how serious of a breach having a “spy” being caught outside of the ground would be or what kind of punishment would be given out.
Bielsa has previous in this. During his time at Chile he hired a 20-year-old ex-schoolmate of his daughter (circled) to travel across the world gathering information on the team's opponents. This year 'Paqui' Meneghini took the reins of Chile's Unión La Calera, aged just 30. pic.twitter.com/vGEV0IC6Nn— Daniel Edwards (@DanEdwardsGoal) January 11, 2019
Long-time Bielsa collaborator Claudio Vivas was also called on to 'spy' for the coach at Newell's: he donned a Boca cap and shirt, told security he was a tourist visiting the museum and sneaked into training to watch Boca's set-piece preparations. https://t.co/4bPSrAHu0y— Daniel Edwards (@DanEdwardsGoal) January 11, 2019
This would not be the first time that Marcelo Bielsa has utilised “spies” to observe upcoming opponents. It’s been reported, mainly in Spanish language press, that Bielsa employed people to “spy” on other teams while he was in charge of Chile, and there is a story about how one Bielsa associate even sneaked into a Boca Junior training session by wearing a Boca Juniors hat & shirt and pretending to be a tourist.
This story will likely not be done today, and if anything does come of it in terms of punishment, the case is likely to drag on for months, if not years, as has been the case with previous breaches of rules, such as FFP punishments for AFC Bournemouth, Leicester City, and Queens Park Rangers.
If ‘all spies aren’t we’ isn’t echoing around the ground later, there’s something wrong.— Simon O'Rourke (@simon_orourke) January 11, 2019
Expect to hear some amusing chants and songs echoing throughout the ground tonight, as Leeds fans will find the humour in all of this, because nothing is ever normal or easy with this club, is it?