Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday have refused to put their clubs’ names to a letter sent to the EFL demanding a thorough investigation into Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa regarding his ‘spying’ on opposition training.
The 11 Championship clubs who are pressing the governing body for an in-depth inquiry into ‘Spygate’ have asked for dates and financial details of Leeds United’s scouting trips to watch opposition training sessions, according to a report in The Times tonight.
The newspaper published a letter sent by 11 sides to the EFL last Friday demanding “full disclosure” after Bielsa admitted to sending staff to observe every Championship club train this season.
Derby County, Norwich City, Bristol City, Nottingham Forest, Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough and Millwall have all put their names to the collective letter. The Times named Hull City, Preston North End, Swansea City and Brentford as the other teams involved.
A total of 12 Championship clubs did not agree to back the complaint, which materialised after Bielsa gave a 66-minute media briefing outlining his pre-match analysis techniques last week.
The briefing was designed to quell criticism which arose after a member of Bielsa’s backroom team was stopped by police outside Derby’s training ground a day before Frank Lampard’s side lost 2-0 at Elland Road on January 11.
The EFL and Football Association were already looking into that incident but Bielsa’s comments prompted further pressure in the form of a collective letter to EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey.
The letter requests the dates and times of United’s scouting trips, details of the individuals responsible and any payments made. It also called for Leeds to confirm whether they used third parties to gain sight of opposition training grounds and whether information was gleaned from “inside sources”.
Leeds, who have declined to comment on the letter, are aware of its contents but are not believed to have received a copy directly.
Bielsa travelled to London on Monday to be interviewed by Football Association officials as part of their investigation.
The 12 sides who declined to signed the letter are Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United, West Bromwich Albion, Birmingham City, Aston Villa, Queens Park Rangers, Bolton Wanderers, Stoke City, Wigan Athletic, Reading and Ipswich Town.
United boss Chris Wilder suggested last week, when questioned about the matter, that there were far more pressing problems than Bielsa’s spying that needed to be sorted in football.
"He (Bielsa) comes a different culture and we've encouraged the introduction of foreign coaches and managers. He's from somewhere with different rules,” said Wilder.
"Is it ethical? Possibly not. Is it something we would do? No. But there are other parts of the game that upset me more, parts that aren't being addressed.
"He's done it, he's a maverick and it's part of this weird and wonderful world we call football. Diving about, going down, rolling about and then getting straight back up again when you've got someone booked or everyone dashing around a ref; those things really do my coconut in."