Championship

Report: Bolton takeover talks break down

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Bolton Wanderers are in an even more alarming financial position, after reports of potential owner Laurence Bassini missing a deadline on Monday to provide proof of his financial capital.

Bolton’s current owner Ken Anderson made the deadline before the weekend, a weekend which saw Bolton’s match against Brentford postponed as the players are refusing to play due to not having been paid their wages last month. But now, per The Times, it looks as though Bassini won’t become the club’s new owner after all, putting the club in a precarious state.

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It’s a sad state of affairs for Bolton, a once-proud club that was a mid-table side in the Premier League less than a decade ago. The club featured Stuart Holden and later Tim Ream, cementing its American connections, but has now come on very hard times. Relegation has already been confirmed, with the club in 23rd place in the Championship, but it could go into administration or cease to be a club if the team continues to fail to pay its players and staff.

Over the weekend, it was reported that the Championship is compelling Bolton to complete its final two matches against Brentford and Nottingham Forest, even if the first team players refuse to play. That could mean potentially using youth players in what would be a mockery of the game, pitting boys against men because of the league’s bylaws and club’s inability to pay wages that were promised contractually.

Leeds coach Bielsa accepts responsibility in spy row

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DERBY, England (AP) Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa is known for his meticulous planning and attention to detail when it comes to preparing his teams for matches.

He took it too far this week.

Bielsa, as coach of English second-tier team Leeds, has accepted responsibility for having a club employee spy on opponent Derby County’s training session ahead of their league match on Friday.

“Without trying to find a justification, I have been using this kind of practice since the qualifications for the World Cup with Argentina,” said Bielsa, who coached his country from 1998-2004. “This is not illegal. We have been doing it publicly; we talk about it in the press. For some people it is the wrong thing, for others it’s not.”

Police were called to Derby’s training center on Thursday following reports of a man “acting suspiciously outside the premises.” The man was seen at the perimeter fence, inside which Derby’s players were training. British newspaper The Daily Mail reported he had in his possession a pair of binoculars and a change of clothes.

Derby manager Frank Lampard brought an early end to the training session.

“Yesterday I talked to Frank Lampard and he told me I didn’t respect fair play,” Bielsa said. “I have a different point of view on it but the important thing is what Frank and Derby think. I am responsible for it because I didn’t ask for Leeds United permission to do it.

“It doesn’t matter if this is legal, illegal, right or wrong,” Bielsa added. “For me, it’s enough that Frank Lampard and Derby County felt it was not the right thing to do. I didn’t behave well.”

Lampard, the former England and Chelsea midfielder, suggested the same thing happened before the teams’ first meeting of the season.

“We had somebody the day before our first game against them, which we lost 4-1,” Lampard said. “Now Leeds can beat you 4-1, they’re a fantastic team, but we had somebody in the bushes that day. Twice this season now.”

Bielsa’s Leeds was top of the League Championship going into Friday’s match against sixth-place Derby.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Derby County confirm training ground spy a Leeds employee

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UPDATE (2:25 pm ET): Marcelo Bielsa publicly admitted to sending an employee to spy on Derby County training. He took full responsibility for his actions, saying nobody instructed him to do so.

Even more shockingly, Bielsa admitted to making use of training ground spies as far back as 17 years ago. “Without trying to find any form of justification, I have been using this practice since the [2002] World Cup qualifications with Argentina,” Bielsa told Sky Sports.

When asked if he is aware of any rules preventing this action, he said, “It doesn’t matter if it’s legal or illegal or right or wrong. For me it’s enough that Frank Lampard and Derby felt it was not the right thing to do.” Reports state Bielsa called Derby manager Frank Lampard to admit to the action before going public.

Bielsa coached Argentina from 1998-2004, and led the Chilean national team from 2007-2011. Since, he has taken charge of club teams Marseille, Lazio, Lille, and now Leeds, hired by the English club in June.

There are no particular rules against spying on opposing clubs, but the English FA could punish Bielsa for bringing the game into disrepute if it determines the offense is grounds for such a charge.

Lampard also told media Friday afternoon that the club noticed someone acting suspiciously around the training ground before they lost 4-1 to Leeds in August. “On a sportsman’s level, it’s bad in my opinion,” Lampard said. “If we’re going to start talking about ‘culturally I did it somewhere else so it’s fine,’ then that doesn’t work for me because I don’t believe it is fine on that level. It’s disrupted our buildup to this game.”


Derby County has released a statement confirming that a man caught reportedly spying on their training session was an employee of Championship rivals Leeds United, whom the Rams are set to play later today.

According to reports on Thursday evening and Friday morning, police were called when it was discovered a man was “acting suspiciously outside the premises” at the club training ground. Reports say the man was watching Frank Lampard’s training session with binoculars, and was also in possession of pliers and a change of clothes.

The Derby County club statement went one step further, confirming that the employee was a member of the Leeds United staff. Leeds sits atop the Championship table, and the two have a vitally important league match with Derby just eight points back in a hotly contested Championship promotion race.

While they did not confirm the identity of the man, Derbyshire police did address the incident on social media Thursday, saying, “Officers have just attended the Training Ground for @dcfcofficial After a suspicious male was seen at the perimeter fence. Excellent searching conducted & male was located. All checks above board!
Keeping the team safe to bring home a win against on 11th!”

Police say they did not make an arrest, and instead the man was simply “sent on his way.” In the club statement, Derby County confirmed they are “in discussion with Leeds United club officials in relation to this incident.”

Derby has done well under new manager Lampard this year, but they have just one win in their last five league matches and desperately need a high-profile result to avoid further trouble as they sit at the bottom of the playoff positions. Meanwhile, Marcelo Bielsa has Leeds atop the standings, just two points ahead of Norwich City.

Former MLS defender Tyrone Mears joins West Brom

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Former Major League Soccer defender Tyrone Mears has joined English Championship side West Bromwich Albion on a short-term contract, which keeps him at the club until at least January.

[ MORE: 10 Premier League clubs in Carabao Cup action on Tuesday ]

The Baggies won’t waste any time in including Mears in the team, with the former Seattle Sounders, Atlanta United and Minnesota United player set to feature for West Brom in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup clash against Mansfield Town.

The 35-year-old has plenty of experience in England throughout his career, making appearances for clubs like West Ham, Derby County and Burnley throughout his extensive time playing professionally.

Mears joined MLS back in 2015 when he arrived with the Sounders, and most recently played for second-year club Minnesota prior to joining West Brom.

Bielsa to coach second-tier Leeds United

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LEEDS, England (AP) Volatile Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa has landed his first managerial job in England after taking charge of second-tier club Leeds.

The 62-year-old Bielsa is a highly respected tactician after impressive coaching spells with Argentina and Chile, and won top-flight league titles in his native country with Newell’s Old Boys and�Velez Sarsfield.

But he also courts controversy. In the last three years, he quit Marseille after the first game of the 2015-16 Ligue 1 season, resigned from Italian club Lazio two days after joining, then didn’t even last half a season at Lille.

Leeds announced the appointment on Friday, with Bielsa saying, “It has always been my ambition to work in England.”

Bielsa has signed a two-year deal, yet coaches have struggled to last even a season at Leeds in a chaotic last few years at the northern club as it looks to return to the Premier League for the first time since 2004.