Any balanced view of this season’s Championship competition will naturally focus on its most prominent, most talked about, most successful and most controversial club and coach – namely Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa. And that view, if it really is sufficiently balanced, will be that both club and coach are by far more sinned against than sinning. The Football League, instead of announcing yet another investigation into their biggest attraction, following the latest ridiculously overhyped storm in a teacup, should instead be issuing a grovelling apology to the players, staff and fans of Leeds United – because the Whites have ascended to and maintained their position at the top of the table with what is effectively a millstone around their collective neck.
Consider the evidence. Against a background of a disastrous injury list which has blighted most of the season so far, the League has consistently acted, via their supposedly neutral on-field arbiters, to make life far more difficult than that heavy casualty count alone would have achieved. As if it’s not enough for United to be labouring under the burden of the loss of so many key players, they have also been denied stonewall penalty after stonewall penalty, on an almost game-by-game basis, while some of the softest awards you can imaging have been given at the other end. The Leeds penalty award count now stands at one in around seventy league matches, a quite ridiculous proportion for a team that regularly has a high number of touches in the opposition area.
And it’s not just penalties. Pontus Jansson, victim of a stupidly soft second yellow card at the weekend, has already served a ban this season for comments about the match referee, made in the immediate aftermath of a hotly contested game. Identical incidents elsewhere resulted in no charge and no further action, but Pontus was banned – seemingly for the offence of committing his indiscretion while wearing a Leeds United shirt. Now Jansson will be banned again for the away game at Rotherham, having been sent off ultimately at Stoke for falling over in pursuit of a Stoke attacker whose progress was not impeded in any way.
And of course, there’s Spygate – something the League clearly sees as a golden chance to throw a spanner in the works of what is, so far, a remarkably successful season for a squad which is basically last season’s also-rans plus a scattering of talented kids. From the outside looking in, the mountain of a formal investigation being made out of the molehill of a bloke on a public highway looking through a wire fence at Derby players training in plain sight is truly laughable. The League do not seem to shy away from the prospect of making the,selves look very silly over this, prompted by a select group of rival Championship clubs who clearly see no alternative way of pegging Leeds back. It’s almost as if the League don’t want to see Leeds United leaving their jurisdiction, for some (possibly financial) reason – but surely, that can’t be the case. Can it?
If Leeds United succeeds in attaining promotion this season, as they still appear on course to do, it will be little short of a miracle. With few high profile additions, and those with serious injury problems, the team performance has been transformed out of all recognition as compared to last season. That is the genius of Marcelo Bielsa, and credit to the squad for buying into his methods and philosophy. But that this group of players, supplemented where necessary by callow youth, should be dominating each game and the whole campaign with such obstacles laid so regularly in their way, is truly remarkable. Leeds and Bielsa deserve a vast amount of credit for their revolutionary approach to bring about such radical improvement, and surely all true Leeds fans will happily pay tribute to exactly that.
But Leeds and Bielsa also deserve perhaps even greater credit for rising above the needless and frivolous forces working against them, whether those forces may be incompetent refereeing as is demonstrably the case in so many fixtures, or indeed the pettifogging attitude of the ruling body, so ready to pounce on a virtual non-issue and magnify it into something that has the anti-Leeds media frothing over with malicious excitement.
This daft investigation should be concluded speedily, with any necessary clarification of rules, or any new rules, made clear forthwith. Leeds must be acknowledged as having broken no existing rules; instead they have merely acted, through the experience and long-standing methodology of Bielsa, as many have acted in the past, including such a luminary as Jose Mourinho (by his own admission and despite limp denials from Frank Lampard). That should all happen at the earliest possible juncture.
And then the League, in recognition of the myriad ways they have failed their biggest club this season, should hold up their hands, eat a large slice of humble pie – and say “sorry” to Leeds United.
My fear with the lack of any communication back from the EFL and FA collaborators is because they are still drafting the laws that Leeds have fallen foul of.
I don’t hold out any hope for common sense or justice from them.
They’ll take 6 points off us……
Phil Hay, having spoken to “many people” seems to think a points deduction scenario is unlikely. Fingers crossed that sanity prevails.
Really good article and everything spot on..but unfortunately this is Leeds and the EFL will go out of their way to keep us here..me thinks they will drag this issue out as long as possible to try unsettle us..
And as for Norwich did they not paint the away dressing room pink to try upset teams..again like Leeds not breaking any rules..
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It is a worrying time Rob.
Even though the EFL said they would investigate ‘Spygate’,
11 clubs have since decided to weigh in to put the boot in.
They are hoping to pressurise the EFL to knock points off LU.
Clubs that are trying to catch us, by coincidence.
Against Stoke we should have come out to show we are the best.
Sadly it was a poor performance – although we were the better side.
The sending off of Pontus was disgusting, and the ref could not book him quick enough!
He RAN to Pontus, to wave the card.
We must close ranks, and not succumb to the pressure created by the disgusting Lampard, and the blood suckers from other clubs and the media!
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Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher has said that Gavin Ward was wrong to send Pontus Jansson off in the Championship game against Stoke on Saturday.
The picture had me laughing and how apt a picture you have chosen.
As for your words in this article you are 200% right and I am no longer laughing, depressed and crying yes.
If anyone out there had written preseason about what was going to happen thus far for Leeds this season, they would seriously be facing a Mental Health notice and be on watch alert as a danger to themselves and possibly the general public.
Surely there is someone, somewhere that has some common sense in both the EFL and FA institutions that can call a halt to all of this and start treating Leeds fairly and squarely. Further more apply the same rules to Leeds as they do other teams instead of having separate rule books for non Leeds and Leeds.
Can we as fans haul that lot over the coals for non fair play and get them sacked? The DAMNED lot of them for the sanctimonious idiots that they are. We do not have to prove anything they have done that themselves.
Rob, Nothing will ever change with this bunch of no marks. Ever since LUFC Had the audacity to burst onto the scene of the footballing elite back in the early sixties, its been us v the establishment. The vile southern press refused to accept that a so called rugby league town could possibly threaten the so called footballing kings, namely Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and the Scummers. I feel if LUFC had not appeared when they did, it would probably be Liverpool who copped for their venom filled pens rather than us.As it was it was us, and the wrongly dubbed `Revie’s Dirty Leeds’ who took the full force of the southern hacks deadly wrath. We have been fighting for our reputation ever since, i’m 62 now, and I cant see it changing, but TBH, its also why we are strong, and I mean club and fans together, as long as these burkes keep penalising us for nothing, we will just get even stronger.
The Dirty Dozen Minus One should be investigated for interfering with an ongoing EFL process, as their aim is clearly to put pressure on the EFL (as if they needed it) to impose sanctions that may directly benefit them. Surely this is not “acting in good faith to a fellow EFL member.” I presume that one club (Derby, Norwich …?) started the process and canvassed the remaining 22 clubs and that 11 refrained from signing the letter. Let’s hope that the “full disclosure” the others demanded extends to naming all the clubs involved. At least a few of them have owned up already.
Middlesborough are one of the Dirty 11!
It would be fair to assume the rest are chasing Leeds for Promotion.
What about #LaundryBasketGate ??? Moaninho has admitted to being smuggled in to give a halftime talk despite being under a stadium ban, and all whilst Saint Fat Frank of Lampard was a player. Never mind, a huge helping of double standards is par for the course with the FL. (I refuse to call them the EFL, because I have no doubt that baldy no-socks had a brown envelope delivered to him following the name change)
I think Dave may well have a point.
Did they not deduct an extra 5 points off us when for all his faults Bates found a loop hole in the administration laws?
I agree entirely with your post. What Leeds have acheived this season is incredible .Many non Leeds fans have told me they enjoy watching Leeds on the tele more than their own.
Off to watch my local team bwfc later see them try to stave off relegation while doing us a favour at the same time.No doubt I will hear the inevitable ‘”we all ate leeds scum” No matter what they hit us with they will never break the spirit that makes Leeds United truly unique and an envy of every other club.
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The FA&EFL are Absolutely Courpt.they are the ones that should be investigated just like FIFA.week in and week out now it’s getting beyond the joke.if the police harrast the victims as much as The EFL are doing to Leeds United they would be repremand and some sort of injunction against them….the last two Referees that leed s have had should be struck off and never ref a leed s game again
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I don’t see how they can legally deduct points, or even fine the club or Bielsa personally, because, as everyone knows, they can’t support such a penalty with quotes of extant written-down rules having been broken. What we did was no more against the spirit of sport than Chris Boardman’s solid wheels or lycra one-piece swimming costumes; it’s about getting ahead by meticulous preparation. It’s nothing like on a par with that South African girlfriend murderer’s blades, or the African ‘female’ runner who most believe to be a bloke. Surely, people who clamber on rooftops to watch test matches at the Oval are committing more of an offence because they’re watching something for free that people inside the ground had to pay to enjoy. There was no trespass, and loitering with intent is not a crime. I do agree that the EFL will draw it out for a while, to cause the type of distraction Bowyer & Woodgate caused in 2002 (?), which resulted in our failing to qualify for the Champions’ League, which precipitated the crash. A couple of new players, or simply the return of three or four long-term-injured players might be all that’s needed to restore morale and put us back to Championship-winning ways. Looking positively at it, it was probably the best time for such a business to crop up – imagine if it had happened in October or March.
Leeds simply have to foster a siege complex out of this, and make it work in their own interests – as, looking at the Pablo quote, seems to be their stated intent
Sadly Rob, the intense furore of negative publicity arising from Sky-gates unabated “investigative journalism” into spygate will result in Bielsa’s legacy being that of a serial “cheat”, (amongst every other Championship club’s supporters), rather than a miracle working head coach at Leeds United.
Mud sticks Rob and the potential benefit and gravity of Bielsa’s actions have been blown out of all proportion by the relentless negative coverage.
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Possibly – although he does have the air of a man who simply knows better and gives zero credence to the mitherings of mental midgets.
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The FL has been taking points off Leeds all season, and seasons past. It’s very clear that the FL and FA don’t want Leeds to gain promotion to the Promised Land. The sending off of Jansson was a clear indication of the FL referee cheating. The Jansson first yellow card shouldn’t have been a foul he clearly won the ball. I’m afraid Leeds won’t win promotion with a corrupt FL in charge. What chance have we got when officials are so blatantly against us every match?
There will be no points deducted if it affects us going up as the money involved is too much. If Leeds missed out on promotion the the club would take the league to court and if they won it could cost the league in excess of 100 million, they can’t risk that as it would bankrupt them. It will be a fine and words of advice and a new rule. The EFL on their website have laid out the rules which may have been broken. Now if you studied these rules and then put the scenorio of what happened into an exam question it would never be validated and the rules as they stand would be ripped apart in court. You may think the leagues is corrupt but I don’t think that they are that clever, you may think that refs are corrupt I actually think they are just inept. What ever happens we need to use the situation to making it an us against them situation and hopefully we will make it to the Prem. Word of warning though, things won’t change when we get their as we will still have the FA to deal with and they’ve done us no favours in the past.
It is all in our hands now, so long as we don’t let this crap get to us (the team).
If we keep winning no one can stop us.
It’s as simple as that.
I agree. Assuming corruption gives them way too much credit. We have apparently transgressed a rule about respect and ethical behaviour. Lawyer up LUFC.
If any rules or laws had been broken we all would have known about it long before now. The club has lawyers, legal professionals who are clued up on what is right or wrong. What we are talking about is nothing more than gamesmanship. If we did not return the ball to the opposition after they had put it out due to an injury, instead gave it to one of our players and he went on to score there would be all hell to pay, BUT neither the FA or the EFL could do anything about it.
As Henryv says the best thing we can do is battle on, determined and focused and win promotion. Achieving that in the face of everything that has been petty, vindictive, contemptuous and downright rotten to the core would hurt these parasites so much they will be crying and wailing in their droves which will give the fans and the club satisfaction beyond our wildest dreams. Come on Leeds, let’s show em just what we are truly made of.
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Hear, bloody hear 👍
The EFL are not saying it is illegal.
They are saying it goes against fairness and brotherly love between the clubs – recently highlighted by the 11 clubs trying to scuttle Leeds.
They are saying it is going against the very vague 2018 agreement.
So how come it has been agreed by all concerned, including Dermot Gallagher on Sky, that Pontus did not handle the ball and should not have been sent off.
Yet be still have to serve a suspension???
Make some sense out of that.
It probably costs us points too
Where is the evidence of fairness in that????
Marcelo in London with the FA yesterday, to give his point of view.
Hope he gets back in time for the Rotherham game!!
Brilliant as ever Rob,
Dermot Gallagher has yet again come out to point out unfair treatment against Leeds twice now in a row…amazing that..That almost unprecedented as far as he’s concerned.
Second week in a row, top ex referee Dermot Gallagher has criticized referees decisions that could have cost us points.that tells you a lot.
Either he knows something or he thinks something is not right or it is just a coincidence? ..That twice in a row Leeds have been penalized unfairly. and even a top notch referee from past years has come out.Wow!
Last week he said,’ I don’t normally criticize refs but what happened in the first minute against Derby was a terrible error by the ref’ he said..I am paraphrasing there.not sure of his exact words now but in essence,that what he said..He also said Pontus should never have been sent off..How’s that for you? Gallagher seems to be watching a lot of our games for some reason.I wonder what that reason my be? Anybody’s guess.
Thank you Rob for exposing all the corrupt things that are going on in the EFL they are clearly biased against Leeds to many strange coincidences there must be a fire with sooooo much smoke surely? What’s that saying Rob? If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.
it’s not politically correct to raise questions about this issue of cheating Referees and of exposing this corruption there at the top levels, but it needs saying …..Bless you Sir Rob!
Excellent article as usual Rob. You sadly lost it at the end thinking we’ll get an apology :).
Demanding one more like, but I know what you mean!