EFL Confirms Standing on Public Footpath Worse Than Racism and Violence (If You’re Leeds) – by Rob Atkinson

Suárez bite – only half as bad as standing on a public footpath

There was a sense of relief yesterday that, apparently, Spygate had at last been put to bed. The general feeling was one of “Aaaaaand relax” – we could now get back to thinking about football and, more specifically, earning a path out of this increasingly ridiculous and corrupt Football League.

Today, though, people are looking at the sheer size of the fine Leeds United have had to accept as the price for concluding what had become a long-running farce. Two hundred thousand pounds. When you look at it, really consider it, that’s an obscenely disproportionate sanction. Some sort of context is afforded when you notice that Russia was fined £22,000 for the racist chanting of its bigoted supporters, and Luis Suárez copped a total of £106,000 for two separate incidents in which he deliberately bit opponents. There are, needless to say, plenty of other illustrative examples.

So, on this basis, being present on public land with footballers training on the other side of a mesh fence is seen as just under twice as heinous as sinking your teeth into two opposing footballers. And it’s almost ten times more outrageous to public morals and decency than the mass chanting of racist jibes. There’s something far wrong with that particular sense of perspective. It’s almost comical, but hardly anyone is laughing.

The bemused fan of Leeds United (and, for all we know, this applies equally to players, staff and directors too) is left scratching his or her head at the outlandish disparity between the penalty for what is basically a non-offence, and the much less potent sanctions applied in the case of far more disgusting, violent and bigoted behaviour. There is a sense that the slavering pack of press and opposing fans that were on Leeds United’s case had to be mollified somehow, and that most of this lynch mob wanted a points deduction for United. Faced with this, and armed only with a vague and flimsy “utmost good faith” principle, did the League feel constrained to lay it on thick, in order that those thirsting for Leeds’ blood should not be too disappointed? How much would they rather have applied a points deduction of, say, 15 points – to end up looking draconian instead of plain stupid?

Other questions arise. What of Swansea City, who basically hid behind the sofa on transfer deadline evening, refusing to answer calls as their player waited at Elland Road for his transfer to be confirmed? Is that “utmost good faith”? What of Liverpool, who cleared one penalty area of snow at half time, but not the other, in order to maximise their second half advantage? Where’s the good faith there?

Most tellingly of all, what if the club involved in Spygate had not been Leeds United, but some hand-to-mouth, impoverished League Two club without two ha’pennies to rub together? Would they have been hit to the tune of two hundred grand, ushering the receivers in through the stadium doors? Deep down, we know it wouldn’t happen – because this hypothetical League Two poorhouse club would not have the initials LUFC.

The Football League, in levying such a ridiculously high fine, has abandoned any pretensions to proportionality or a real life view. They’ve blatantly – to quote the excellent Phil Hay of the Yorkshire Evening Post – taken a hammer to crack a walnut. Some Leeds fans are now seeking to crowdfund a contribution to the vast sum Leeds will have to pay, but that’s not really the point. Because, although it may well be that Leeds United feel the pragmatic thing to do is take this penalty flush on the chin and move on, that doesn’t make it right. The Football League has, yet again, exposed itself to ridicule and derision, something that has implications for every club under its jurisdiction.

Whichever way you look at this bizarre conclusion to Spygate, it smacks more of appeasing the mob than it does of any maturely considered conclusion. And whatever word you might use to sum the whole mess up, it most certainly wouldn’t be justice.

22 responses to “EFL Confirms Standing on Public Footpath Worse Than Racism and Violence (If You’re Leeds) – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Leeds White 697

    The mind boggles Rob.

    And now Fwankie Lampoon is a contender for the Chelski job………how?????????

    It’s been a crazy couple of days but I hope the blues take FL instead of ZZ……guaranteed mid table finish.


  2. Stand by for incoming £10 fine for Millwoe and their racist chanting. A lot of people are missing the point with this £200K fine, “it’s better than a points deduction” well, it is but it’s just so disproportionate. Any punishment meted out to us, as it sets a precedent, should have been suspended. Anyway, onwards and upwards, big wins required next week.


  3. Steve Paul Grundy

    Waiting for Chelsea’s fine to be levied, didn’t they admit to similar surveillance methods?


  4. Life is LUFC

    What would have been the price if Leeds had had a Royal following?
    Would Leeds have been given help?
    That shower at EFL/FA are just beyond words.
    Every dog has it’s day and Leeds are saving up their days and the day will come when they can have a real party at the expense of a lot of others. So come on Leeds sod them all and let’s do it our way….MOT


  5. Steve Clark

    The League are guilty of gross hypocrisy in fining a club that have not broken either League rules or the law of the land. All because Frank Lampard has sulked like a spoilt child and has delusions of self importance just because he spent years playing for an overrated England team who were high on hype and short on real achievement.
    The concept of showing ‘good faith’ to opponents is a daft play of words which means nothing.If we take this to the ultimate degree are clubs now going to train in underground bunkers to avoid being spied on?
    At Millwall’s F.A.Cup tie against Everton a supporter was seriously injured in episodes of crowd trouble. Shouldn’t this be a greater priority for theLeague to investigate this matter?


  6. George Burton

    The fine apparently included a ‘contribution’ to costs of the investigation. I wonder if the 11 complaining clubs made a contribution for the investigation into the questions they asked, like was the ‘spy’ paid and how much etc. and all the other crap they became up with.


  7. I think what many fans are missing is that Palace were fined £25,000 for a similar offense on Cardiff. Bielsa has admitted spying on maybe 10 other teams so it doesn’t take a genius to work out the maths.


  8. In my dreams Leeds are promoted to the Premier League but a dark cloud appears – a fellow called Harvey has left his EFL job and has been appointed by the Premiership to make sure that insurmountable obstacles are place before a certain club


  9. Paul dolby

    Its an FA and EFL which hunt deliberately aimed at one club in psrticular is lord wahwinney still alive if so i bet he has something to do with this .


  10. No need to worry about Harvey getting the Prem job, they’ve seen what a great job he did when he forced the Sky deal through.


  11. Dan Deeney

    Disappointing that the club rolled over and accepted the fine. I can only think it wasn’t disputed in the interests of not destabilising the team with ephemeral issues. Otherwise, it would surely have been worth appealing such a disproportionate amount of moolah.


  12. howard mackey

    Morning Rob,I think you know my thoughts on the E.F.L.i had the misfortune of meeting Harvey during the Bates era and just could not take to the man,we just have to demolish the teams we have left to play and come May we will be out of this League.
    Regards ,


    • Hope so mate. I doubt anyone could now deny that the League have a definite agenda where Leeds are concerned – although it actually dates back to the late, unlamented Alan Hardaker.


  13. Spot on as usual Rob, not only the ridiculously disproportionate fine, but also the length of time it took. Just seemed like they’d prolong our agony for the hell of it. But we’re Leeds United we don’t give a ….
    What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.


  14. I am infuriated with the club Rob for accepting what is a compromise. Truth is, take this punishment or we will derail, upset, disrupt, in fact we will do everything to mess up your season. The other point which fans are not realising is , if we accept this and then do something wrong this will be taken into consideration when deciding how to shaft us again. We have broken NO rules, we have broken NO laws and yet we are being taken to the cleaners. Our lawyers could have a field day with this lot in court.
    Anyway it’s all over, water under the bridge, put it to bed and let’s hammer Bolton on Saturday and take our rightful place at the TOP OF THE LEAGUE. MOT


  15. It’s a disgrace but the Leeds board meekly took it. Good on you Rob for praising Hay he’s a fair and good source of reliable LUFC news yet gets slated often goodness knows why.


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