Marcelo Bielsa: Leeds United head coach says he paid £200,000 'spygate' fine personally

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa on the sidelines
Argentine Marcelo Bielsa has had spells managing in his homeland, Mexico, Spain and France, as well as taking charge of Argentina and Chile

Head coach Marcelo Bielsa says he personally paid Leeds' £200,000 fine for spying on Championship opponents.

The EFL punished Leeds in February after a member of United's staff was seen outside Derby's training ground.

Bielsa, 63, subsequently admitted he had sent someone to watch every team they had played this season train.

"The sanction (the EFL) gave us of £200,000 - it is a financial sanction against the club, not against me, but I am responsible for it," Bielsa said.

"That is why I paid it from my pocket, the financial sanction."

In an hour-long press conference on Friday, Bielsa discussed at length the Football Association's decision not to punish Aston Villa's Conor Hourihane for apparently punching Leeds' Mateusz Klich in Sunday's controversial 1-1 draw at Elland Road.

He also spoke passionately about his own future at Leeds should they fail to be promoted to the Premier League via the play-offs.

Leeds, who are third in the Championship, could receive another fine from the FA after being charged with failing to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion during the Villa match.

The Yorkshire club were handed a £5,000 fine for a similar charge during February's win over Bolton.

Argentine Bielsa is in his first season managing in England, and says he must respect the country's football authorities.

"There is nothing worse as a foreigner than giving yourself the right to judge the behaviour of the owners of the house," he said.

"I don't want to be judged as someone who belongs to the Championship but criticises the Championship.

"That's why I paid the fines, because I violated the rule.

"I am giving this information just to respect some principles. As I am responsible, I paid the fine."

Bielsa questions FA decision on Hourihane

Bielsa spent a long portion of his press conference on Friday speaking about events at Elland Road five days previously, when Leeds allowed Villa to walk in an equaliser unopposed after Klich had scored a contentious opener.

Villa's players stopped as striker Jonathan Kodjia was down injured, but play continued and Klich fired in from the edge of the box to open the scoring midway through the second half.

Bielsa accepted that Leeds striker Patrick Bamford was correctly suspended for "successfully deceiving a match official" in the melee that followed Klich's goal, with Villa's Anwar El Ghazi later having his red card for violent conduct rescinded.

However, he could not understand why Villa midfielder Hourihane was not retrospectively punished for appearing to punch Klich in the chest.

Bielsa gave his interpretation of the FA's decision not to sanction Hourihane, saying: "The conclusion you have to draw is that when someone gives a punch you can't analyse the strength of the punch - you know it's a punch, you don't know how strong, you have to measure it, and the only one who can measure it is the one who receives it.

"If you punch someone and it's not strong, it's not aggression. If you punch someone and it's strong, it's aggression. That's the conclusion you have to draw."

Bielsa added that he believes players could make the most of similar situations as a result of the FA's decision.

Bielsa responds to exit claims

Meanwhile, Bielsa has responded to reports he could leave Elland Road this summer if Leeds are not promoted to the Premier League.

The Whites spent most of the campaign in the top two, but have had to settle for a place in the play-offs.

"I have never said that if we don't get promoted I won't carry on my work here," Bielsa, who signed an initial two-year deal when he joined Leeds last summer, said.

"I haven't said I was going to leave and I haven't said I was going to stay. I just said it was not the moment to talk about the subject.

"I would never say that if we stayed in the Championship I won't stay here, otherwise you say the importance of this club is linked to the division in which it plays.

"This team and club are important whether they play in the Premier League, the Championship or League One.

"I can't accept people saying I am going to stay here only if we get promoted. I am thankful to work at Leeds United and be in the Championship."