Prior to Leeds’ 2-0 win over Derby on Friday, a man was spotted outside the Rams’ training ground ahead of the match, an incident for which Bielsa has admitted he was responsible. The club have ‘formally apologised’ to their Championship counterparts, whilst the Football Association are continuing to investigate the matter.
BREAKING: @LUFC coach Marcelo Bielsa admits sending a club employee to spy on @dcfcofficial's training session ahead of tonight's game and "accepts all responsibility". #SSN pic.twitter.com/dxtZWsGmW8— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) January 11, 2019
A Leeds statement on the incident read: “Following comments made by Marcelo Bielsa on Friday, the club will look to work with our head coach and his staff to remind them of the integrity and honesty which are the foundations that Leeds United is built on.
“Our owner Andrea Radrizzani has met with Derby County’s owner Mel Morris to formally apologise for Marcelo’s actions.”
It is said that the man in question was removed from Derby’s training ground by Derbyshire Police, though no arrests were made following the incident.
The Spy Who Said Sorry To Me — PA Dugout (@PAdugout) January 12, 2019
Marcelo Bielsa reminded of responsibilities as Leeds apologise to Derby for spying on their traininghttps://t.co/qfVizAmNF7
The victory on Friday moved Leeds five points clear at the top of the Championship table, and Derby manager Frank Lampard said after the game that he did not accept Bielsa’s explanation for the ‘spy’ incident.
“I don’t think it’s right, I can’t see how anyone who plays sport thinks it’s right,” Lampard said after the game, as quoted by the Telegraph. “I don’t see why you would do it if you did not think you were going to get a sporting advantage."
“Cheating is a big word, but if you talk about details and gaining an advantage, it’s not just a toe, it’s a hop, skip and jump as far as I’m concerned. To find out an opposition manager has sent someone undercover to spy on our training session, I believe that is wrong.
“I’ve always admired Bielsa from afar, his innovative methods, I’ve got his book at home, but when I find something out like this, if this what he feels it takes, that’s not for me.
Thursday:— SPORF (@Sporf) January 11, 2019
A suspicious man is reported at Derby’s Training Ground.
♂ Derby confirm the man found was a Leeds United employee.
Marcelo Bielsa admits he sent a man to spy on training.
✅ Leeds 2-0 Derby
路♂️ Plan worked. pic.twitter.com/maiu65iqth
“When you come in with tools, pliers and boltcutters to break into private property, to crawl on your hands and knees to spy on a training session, it goes beyond what is right I believe.”
In response to Lampard’s scathing attack, Bielsa denied that his actions ahead of the match were ‘immoral,’ insisting that he had been carrying out such methods for ‘many years.’
“I understand Frank Lampard is angry because he thinks I’m someone who is cheating,” Bielsa said, as quoted by BBC Sport. “I understand he draws this conclusion. But I don’t feel I cheated because my goal was not to get an illegal advantage.
“I can explain my behaviour but my intention is not to be understood or to justify it. I have to respect the norms in the country where I work.”