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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.

Reports: Jack Harrison set for loan move to Leeds United

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According to a report by Sky Sports, which has been corroborated by the Yorkshire Evening Post, Manchester City striker Jack Harrison is set to move on loan to Leeds United for the coming season.

According to both reports, Harrison is currently undergoing a medical in London on Monday to prepare for the switch which will see the 21-year-old work with Marcelo Bielsa this season. Harrison went on loan for the second half of last year to Middlesborough, where he was unable to crack the starting lineup, only seeing 49 minutes of action in the Championship.

Harrison officially moved to Manchester City in January from Major League Soccer club NYCFC, which has an official affiliation with Manchester City.

At Leeds, there is a void at the striker position following the departure of last year’s second-leading scorer Pierre-Michel Lasogga who returned to German club Hamburg at the completion of his loan. Lasogga scored 10 goals last season in all competitions, second only to 24-year-old winger Kemar Roofe who bagged 14. Other strikers officially on the roster include Chievo Verona loanee Caleb Ekuban and 19-year-old Wales international Tyler Roberts on loan from West Brom.

With Harrison usually deployed on the right, he could also compete heavily with the more left-sided Roofe, plus 33-year-old Spaniard Pablo Hernandez who made a whopping 41 Championship appearances for Leeds last year, scoring seven goals and assisting nine others.

Harrison has impressed this preseason with Manchester City, seeing significant time in the International Champions Cup with most of City’s international players on extended rest after the World Cup. He started and proved dangerous in 64 minutes of action against Liverpool in City’s 2-1 loss, and he came off the bench for 23 minutes in the 3-2 win over Bayern Munich on Saturday. Pep Guardiola has praised his young squad for their attitude and performance this summer. “You cannot imagine how much I have enjoyed these ten days with these guys,” Guardiola said after the third and final ICC match against Bayern. “They are starving to become football players – they are hungry.  When I say something, they open their eyes and listen to you. They have to make their career and we are here to help them. I told them: if all the guys here in training every single day are curious to know what happens, I will say thank you. ”

NFL’s 49ers purchase minority stake in Leeds United

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One of England’s most famous clubs is receiving investment and strategic business connections from one of the NFL’s most famous brands.

Leeds United and the San Francisco 49ers announced Thursday that 49ers Enterprises, an investment arm of the 49ers ownership, has purchased a minority stake in the Championship club. Multiple reports state that the 49ers now own 10-15 percent of the club, but current Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani remains the majority owner.

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As part of the deal, 49ers President Paraag Marathe gets a seat on the Leeds United board of directors. Per Leeds, the money invested will stay with the club and be used for the first team, as Leeds looks again to make its way back to the Premier League in next season’s campaign.

An American ownership group investing in England is nothing new, but to identify and purchase a stake in a club with history and a decent chance at making it to the Premier League is impressive. In addition, the York Family, who owns the 49ers, has a net worth in the billions, which could help fund Leeds’ push back into the Premier League.

For the 49ers, this is also a savvy business decision. By investing low in a club in the Championship, they hope that they can experience the financial windfall of playing in the Premier League. This season, clubs made a combined $3.2 billion (with a capital B) thanks to revenue sharing, international and domestic TV rights, and other sponsorship deals.

With even the relegated sides taking home nine figures in revenues from the league, who wouldn’t want to invest and take a cut of that?

Now, only time will tell how long it is before the 49ers influence helps – or hinders, based on the 49ers current state of affairs in the U.S. – Leeds reach the pinnacle of English football.