Frank Lampard claimed the 'Spygate' scandal that heightened tensions between Leeds United and Derby County earlier in the season is not on his mind ahead of the Championship play-off semi-final between the two clubs.

Marcelo Bielsa's admission that he sent spies to Derby's training ground ahead of Leeds' 2-0 victory over the Rams at Elland Road in January left Lampard "very surprised" and he condemned the former Argentina coach's actions, saying: "I don't think it's right".

Derby's 3-1 victory over West Brom on the final day of the league campaign set up a two-legged clash to determine who will face Aston Villa or the Baggies at Wembley for a place in the Premier League.

But Lampard deflected questions about whether the saga would have any bearing on the tie, telling the Guardian: "I want to take myself out of that one now.

"I don't care about the history. I don't care about the talk of spies, I actually care about the fact they beat us well over two games and have been a really strong team this season.

"I'll block all of that out and might have to fend off a few questions about it, but the important thing is focusing on Leeds as a team and trying to get a result."

Derby lost both of their Championship games against Leeds this season, succumbing to a 4-1 thrashing at Pride Park in August before January's defeat away from home.

Leeds head into Saturday's first leg without a win in four matches, however, while hosts Derby are unbeaten in six.

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa reacted angrily when asked by a journalist if he would 'spy' on Derby County again ahead of the Championship play-off semi-final.

Bielsa paid a £200,000 fine given to Leeds after the English Football League sanctioned the club for breaching rules relating to treating opposition teams with the "utmost good faith".

Managers including Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino criticised Bielsa after he admitted sending a staff member to watch all his opponents in training, the story emerging ahead of a game against Derby in January.

The clubs are set to meet again in the play-offs this month after Frank Lampard's Rams won 3-1 at home to West Brom on Sunday to claim sixth spot ahead of Middlesbrough, with Leeds finishing third despite their loss at relegated Ipswich Town.

After his side went down 3-2 against the 10-man Tractor Boys, a result he described as an "accident", Bielsa was asked if there could be a repeat of the 'Spygate' row and he was unimpressed with the line of questioning.

"You know that it's a crime to spy. Do you know that? Do you know it was a crime?" Bielsa said at his post-match news conference.

"When you have a level of ignorance and you work as a journalist, and when you have a right to ask questions and when you lie in your answers and you don't assume the irony and you keep telling what you ignore - if spying is a crime or not - you deserve a response without any conclusion.

"You make your question knowing that observing the opponent is now sanctioned, you know it perfectly and you ask. You deny the fact that you know the answer and you know I received a sanction.

"Is it a joke? If it was I don't understand it. But it's not because I don't have a sense of humour.

"You're not funny."

Lampard's first season as a manager has seen him successfully lead Derby to a top-six finish but he feels the Rams face a major challenge to reach the Premier League.

"The achievement is great to be in that bracket, with Leeds and Aston Villa, but we're massive underdogs. Let's just enjoy that tag and see what we can do," he told Sky Sports.

"I know who they [Leeds] are, I've been asked it a million times. All the history is history. These are two massive games against a team that looked like they were going to run away with it this year.

"We're going to give it everything. I think there will be motivation for everyone at the club. What we as staff and players have to do is take that away and think, 'What can we do over these two matches to win them and [get] a potential game at Wembley?'

"Take away all the spying talk, we didn't play well in either of those games and Leeds beat us well and beat us true. They were good lessons to learn.

"When I talk about us being underdogs I truly believe it. I think they're a fantastic team. We've been more inconsistent than them without a doubt, so there you go."

Norwich City lifted the Championship trophy after a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa saw them fend off the challenge of Sheffield United on a final day that also saw Derby County secure a place in the play-offs.

Derby's 3-1 win over West Brom, who ended the season in fourth, ensured Frank Lampard's men finished sixth ahead of Middlesbrough, who did all they could by beating Rotherham United 2-1.

Leeds United's place in the play-offs was already assured but a 3-2 defeat against the 10 men of already-relegated Ipswich Town left Marcelo Bielsa's men winless in four, while Bristol City, who could have secured a top-six finish if Derby and Middlesbrough slipped up, drew 1-1 at Hull City.

Second-placed Sheffield United, who drew 2-2 at Stoke City, will have the luxury of sitting back and watching while Leeds, West Brom, Villa and Derby contest the Championship play-offs.

 

LATE VRANCIC STRIKE ADDS GLOSS TO CANARIES' GLORY

Mario Vrancic scored Norwich's winner four minutes from time to send their travelling fans wild on a day when Daniel Farke's men were bidding to claim the Championship title.

In the end Sheffield United's draw at Stoke rendered the Canariers' result irrelevant, but it will not have felt that way to Farke and his players who capped a fine season with a win over one of the division's form teams.

Villa were unbeaten in 12 going into the game but they fell behind when Teemu Pukki tapped home Onel Hernandez's cross after seven minutes.

Jonathan Kodjia levelled matters seven minutes later, sweeping Conor Hourihane's low free-kick into the net, and Dean Smith's side looked the better side for spells before Vrancic rifled a shot into the bottom corner of Jed Steer's net from the edge of the box to put the sheen on a day of celebrations across Norfolk.

DERBY SECURE SIXTH AFTER DRAMA AT PRIDE PARK

Derby County clinched a place in the Championship play-offs at Middlesbrough's expense after they beat West Brom 3-1 at Pride Park.

Lampard's men took the lead when Martyn Waghorn rose to meet Jayden Bogle's first-time cross, timing his run well to shake off his marker and nod the ball down into the bottom corner of the net.

Waghorn limped off injured after 40 minutes and Stefan Johansen's equaliser for West Brom meant that Middlesbrough – who were 2-0 up at Rotherham at the time – were set to take the Rams' place in the top six.

But after Tom Lawrence's close-range shot was saved by Sam Johnstone's outstretched leg, Mason Bennett pounced on the rebound and poked it into the net to restore Derby's lead.

Lawrence then jinked his way into the area only to be felled by Kyle Bartley, and Harry Wilson buried the penalty kick in the bottom-left corner of the net before Baggies substitute Hal Robson-Kanu was sent-off for kicking out at Bradley Johnson.

LEEDS SLUMP TO THIRD DEFEAT IN FOUR

A calamitous mix-up between Leeds goalkeeper Kiko Casilla and defender Luke Ayling gifted a winning goal to Collin Quaner, who slid the ball home to earn already-relegated Ipswich a win over Bielsa's out-of-sorts side.

Flynn Downes put Town ahead when the visitors failed to clear their lines at a free-kick, but Mateusz Klich popped up with an equaliser just before the interval, slamming the ball inside the near post from 12 yards.

Andre Dozzell restored Ipswich's lead as Leeds were caught napping at the back two minutes into the second half, before Stuart Dallas equalised from close range when Kemar Roofe's shot rebounded off the crossbar.

Luke Chambers felled Roofe three minutes later and was sent off before the Leeds striker ballooned the ensuing penalty over the bar, and in the final minute the visiting fans were left in disbelief as their side slumped to a third defeat in four matches heading into the play-offs.

THREE POINTS NOT ENOUGH FOR BORO

John Obi Mikel scored his first league goal in English football for almost six years as Middlesbrough beat Rotherham, but a fifth win in six Championship matches was not enough to lift Tony Pulis' men into the play-off places.

Elsewhere, Brentford ended the season on a high as they beat Preston North End 3-0 at Griffin Park, and there were also wins for Nottingham Forest, Queens Park Rangers and Wigan Athletic, while Birmingham City drew 0-0 at Reading and Blackburn Rovers were held to a 2-2 draw by Swansea City.

Chris Wilder quit a job in the construction industry to lay the foundations for a successful career in management with concerns over what daily sausage sandwiches would do to his waistline. 

Eighteen years later he has built something special at Sheffield United, cementing his status as a Blades legend by guiding his boyhood club into the Premier League. 

Wilder has masterminded two promotions in three years since taking charge at Bramall Lane, on the back of winning the League Two title with Northampton Town. 

The wily Sheffield native took a path less trodden to earn his place among the elite. 

He was appointed by Alfreton Town in the Northern Counties East Premier Division at the age of 34, after getting a taste for management at Sunday League side Bradway in the twilight of his playing days 

Wilder won a quadruple in his first season at the helm and was installed as Halifax Town boss after only 27 weeks at the Derbyshire club. 

After learning his trade in non-league football, the 51-year-old worked his way up with Oxford United and Northampton before being charged with the task of getting the Blades out of League One. 

Wilder may not have been enjoying the fruits of his labour had Alfreton chairman Wayne Bradley not taken a chance on the full-back in 2001. 

"This [Alfreton] was a part-time outfit in every sense of the word and he made himself full-time," Bradley told Omnisport. 

"Chris was in the transition at the end of a playing career to what happens next and he got himself a job in a building firm. 

"I remember him turning to me and saying, 'Nothing against anyone that I work with, nothing against anyone who does this, but I can't have a sausage cob break every morning - my waistline won't cope with it and I just can't get my head around the fact this is the way of life I'm going to go on to have. 

"'Weekdays I'm going to throw myself into this role, at no extra cost to you, and I'll get involved in anything and everything you'll let me do, beyond simply shaping a team'.  

"There were other roles given to Chris, one being going along to the kit manufacturer and talking to them about what he wanted." 

Having downed tools in his previous industry, Wilder was still prepared to get his hands dirty at Alfreton. 

Bradley added: "I remember we had a manager's office, come store room, come whatever else you can fit in it. On one particular day he came armed with brush, shovel and the rest of it and cleaned that office out. 

"Within a few days he had shaped that into a professional environment where he could invite prospective players. Chris did that all by himself and started to invite people to have a coffee with him at the end of the day. Not just potential new players, he would invite anybody and everybody - be it somebody operating the turnstiles or whoever. 

"He made himself very popular very quickly. Professionalism may be daunting for some, but the manner of his professionalism and making himself available to anyone... quite frankly, he would probably have been voted in as chairman if there was a public vote! 

"He also helped the groundsman, because he wanted a better playing surface. While he had no qualifications to make grass grow better than the next guy, he wanted to learn how that happened. He wanted to work with the volunteers who would have made sure the changing rooms were painted and in tip-top condition. 

"He got involved in anything and everything that he felt could influence success and I believe he's still doing that." 

Wilder may no longer be partaking in sausage cobs, but he has certainly brought home the bacon with a huge appetite for success. 

Marcelo Bielsa says he paid Leeds United's £200,000 Spygate fine out of his own pocket.

The English Football League sanctioned Leeds in February after finding the Championship club guilty of breaching rules relating to treating opposition teams with the "utmost good faith".

Bielsa admitted to observing each of his rivals' training sessions and, speaking ahead of the trip to Ipswich Town on Sunday, claimed he stumped up the six-figure sum his club were ordered to pay.

"The sanction I received that the federation [Football Association] gave us - £200,000 - is a financial sanction the club received, not against me, but I am responsible for it and that's why I paid from my pocket the financial sanction," Bielsa told reporters.

Leeds are set to be dealt another fine after being charged by the FA for failing to control their players during last weekend's dramatic draw against Aston Villa, a melee having broken out after Mateusz Klich played on and scored as Jonathan Kodjia lay injured on the floor.

Bielsa instructed his players to let Villa equalise and the eventual 1-1 draw ended his side's slim hopes of winning automatic promotion to the Premier League.

Speculation has mounted over whether the former Argentina boss will stay on at Elland Road should the season end in play-off heartbreak, but Bielsa denied a potential second campaign in charge is dependent on which division Leeds find themselves in.

"I have never said that if we don't get promoted that I won't carry on my work here," he said.

"I haven't said I was going to leave and I haven't said I was going to stay. I just said it wasn't the moment to talk about the subject and I just said it's about receiving the proposal and then accepting the proposal or not.

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

"For me, this team and club is important, whether they play in the Premier League, Championship or League One.

"I don't want people to think I'm not thankful, because if after the year I have spent here I only limit my valuation to the fact they play in one division or the other, then I am not tactful."

Bolton Wanderers' rearranged home match against Brentford will not take place and their opponents will instead be awarded a 1-0 victory, the English Football League (EFL) has confirmed.

Relegated Bolton called off the Championship fixture last weekend as their players went on strike over unpaid wages for March and April.

It was announced on Thursday that the game would be rescheduled for Tuesday, May 7, two days after the final round of league fixtures in the second tier.

However, a further decision has been taken to give Brentford the three points, with the EFL to open disciplinary proceedings against Bolton.

"Following the decision taken by Bolton Wanderers' Safety Advisory Group (SAG) to issue a prohibition notice preventing Tuesday's rearranged Championship fixture with Brentford from taking place, the EFL will not be asking that the game is played at a future date," read a statement from the governing body.

"There is no provision under EFL Regulations to direct clubs to play at a later date than four days past the conclusion of the season and, as a result, it has been determined that Brentford will be awarded the three points on the basis of a 1-0 victory.

"As a consequence, Bolton Wanderers is now deemed to be guilty of misconduct by the EFL which will result in disciplinary proceedings against the club being taken at an appropriate time.

"The decision to award the victory to Brentford is taken under Regulation 33.2 and is independent of the proceedings referred to above."

Bolton Wanderers' suspended Championship match against Brentford has been rearranged for Tuesday, May 7, the English Football League (EFL) has confirmed. 

The game was originally scheduled for last weekend but did not take place after Bolton's players went on strike over unpaid wages for March and April. 

The new date is two days after the end of the regular Championship season. 

Bolton have already been relegated to League One and find themselves in dire financial straits, with the club announcing on Thursday that Laurence Bassini's attempt to purchase them from owner Ken Anderson had fallen through.

There is a risk of Bolton being placed into administration and, should that come to pass, the EFL would not insist on the game being played. 

"The rationale for adopting that approach is that it is the [EFL] board's view that any administrator should be allowed to concentrate their efforts and available funding on finding a purchaser for the club, rather than staging the fixture in these unprecedented circumstances," the EFL said in a statement. 

Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford has been banned for two games by the Football Association (FA) after being found guilty of successfully deceiving a match official.

Aston Villa forward Anwar El Ghazi was dismissed following a clash with Bamford during Sunday's controversial 1-1 draw with Leeds at Elland Road.

A melee had broken out in the aftermath of Mateusz Klich's 72nd-minute opening goal, which was scored immediately after the hosts opted not to kick the ball out of play to allow Villa striker Jonathan Kodjia to receive treatment.

However, television replays indicated contact between El Ghazi and Bamford was minimal, with the Villa midfielder having his suspension rescinded.

Bamford, who the FA said denied the charge, will miss Leeds' last Championship game of the season at relegated Ipswich Town, as well as the first leg of the play-off semi-final.

"It was alleged that the Leeds United player's behaviour in the 72nd minute of the EFL Championship fixture against Aston Villa on Sunday [28/04/2019], in committing a clear act of simulation which led to the dismissal of an opponent, amounted to improper conduct," an FA statement said.

"Whilst the forward denied the charge, it was subsequently found proven during an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing today [02/05/2019]."

Leeds claimed Bamford did not deny the charge but the club wanted to challenge his punishment, which they felt he should have avoided due to the actions of their head coach Marcelo Bielsa during the bad-tempered game.

"Whilst Patrick Bamford did not deny the charge of successful deception of a match official following our Championship game against Aston Villa on Sunday, the club did request a hearing to contest the penalty imposed on the player," Leeds said.

"The club felt that given the circumstances surrounding the incident, including the extraordinary act of sportsmanship which saw our head coach Marcelo Bielsa demand our team to allow Aston Villa to score an uncontested equaliser, we could have a sensible discussion around the sanction.

"We acknowledge that the FA panel did not feel that to be reasonable and the club therefore joins Patrick in accepting the two-match ban."

Leeds slipped to third in the Championship table after back-to-back league losses to Wigan Athletic and Brentford last month effectively handed promotion to Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United, who will join leaders Norwich City in the Premier League.

Derby County let slip the chance to make all but certain of their place in the Championship play-offs as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Swansea City.

Derby could have ended Bristol City's chances of catching them by beating Graham Potter's Swansea, but Wayne Routledge's second-half strike cancelled out Richard Keogh's opener to leave Frank Lampard's Rams unsure of their fate.

Both Bristol City and Middlesbrough could catch Derby if they fail to beat West Brom on Sunday and Lampard will be disappointed that his side failed to capitalise on a dominant first half at Liberty Stadium.

Bradley Johnson almost opened the scoring with a fierce downward header from close range but Kristoffer Nordfeldt denied the midfielder, getting down quickly to make a superb reaction save.

Keogh rose to meet Harry Wilson's corner at the far post and his looping header crashed in off the post to leave Swansea chasing the game after 22 minutes.

Swansea improved after the interval and substitute Jay Fulton blazed over the crossbar early in the second half as gaps started to appear in the Derby rearguard.

Routledge made no such mistake in the 66th minute, bundling the ball home after Ollie McBurnie's close-range header was parried onto the post by Kelle Roos to ensure the points were shared.

Sixth-placed Derby have 71 points after 45 matches, a point above Middlesbrough and two clear of Bristol City.

Bolton Wanderers' clash with Nottingham Forest will go ahead as planned as the beleaguered club have confirmed their first-team players will be available, according to a statement from the English Football League (EFL).

Already relegated from the second tier, Bolton's final home fixture with Brentford, scheduled for April 27, was postponed amid an ongoing player strike over unpaid wages - a decision that was backed by the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA).

The club's ownership situation remains unresolved, with a proposed takeover by Laurence Bassini having reportedly not progressed, but the EFL has indicated that Wanderers' trip to the City Ground on Sunday will take place.

"Bolton Wanderers has confirmed to the EFL that its first-team squad will be available for the club’s away fixture against Nottingham Forest at the weekend," read the statement.

"As a result, the game will take place as originally scheduled on Sunday, May 5, kick-off 12:30pm, along with all other Championship fixtures.

"The EFL board will determine on Thursday, May 2 as to what arrangements are to be put in place in regards to last week's suspended fixture with Brentford and details will be confirmed in due course."

Bristol City's Championship play-off dream remains alive after a late 2-1 win at Millwall.

The visitors had seemingly slipped out of contention after a run of one point from four matches - including Saturday's costly defeat to Derby County - left them outside the top six.

And it looked as though their slim chances of still achieving promotion to the Premier League would be extinguished when they trailed to Lee Gregory's goal at half-time on Tuesday.

But City responded admirably to Gregory's smart finish on the turn, even if they might have fallen further behind in the second half when the scorer went down in the area.

Max O'Leary kept out Shaun Williams' penalty, though, and Lee Johnson's men were level three minutes later thanks to Jamie Paterson's superb free-kick.

City kept pushing and, with eight minutes remaining, Famara Diedhiou struck to leave his side just one point behind sixth-placed Derby County, who have a game in hand, away at Swansea City on Wednesday, and Middlesbrough.

Elsewhere, Luton Town and Barnsley were both promoted to the Championship after Portsmouth and Sunderland each lost their games in hand, meaning they will have to go through the play-offs to reach the the second tier.

The Football Association (FA) has overturned Aston Villa midfielder Anwar El Ghazi's red card from the draw with Leeds United and charged Patrick Bamford with deceiving a match official.

Leeds striker Bamford and El Ghazi were involved in an altercation in the aftermath of Mateusz Klich's 72nd-minute goal, scored after the hosts refused to put the ball out of play to allow Jonathan Kodjia to receive treatment.

Bamford went down holding his face as El Ghazi swung an arm in his direction, even though contact was minimal.

El Ghazi's subsequent dismissal for violent conduct has now been rescinded, while Bamford has until Wednesday to respond to his charge of "successful deception of a match official".

In addition, both clubs have been charged with failing to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion shortly after Klich's controversial goal. They have until Friday to provide a response.

The game finished 1-1, with Leeds allowing Albert Adomah to equalise unchallenged – despite the best efforts of Pontus Jansson – immediately after Klich's strike.

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa later said he felt it was in keeping with the spirit of English football to allow Villa to score.

The result meant Sheffield United were guaranteed promotion to the Premier League, along with Norwich City, meaning Leeds will contest the play-offs.

Former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland defender John O'Shea is set to retire at the end of the season, his club Reading have confirmed.

O'Shea, who won five Premier League titles during his time at Old Trafford, announced his decision on his 38th birthday on Tuesday.

The versatile defender also won the FA Cup and two EFL Cups and was part of the United squad that won the Champions League under Alex Ferguson in the 2007-08 season.

O'Shea left United in 2011 to join Steve Bruce's Sunderland, spending seven years at the club before signing for Reading last year.

But opportunities have been limited for the veteran this term and he has started only seven Championship games for the Royals, while he was on the bench for their FA Cup defeat to United at Old Trafford in January.

"A fabulous playing career is coming to a close – today, on his 38th birthday, John O'Shea has announced he is to retire at the end of the season," Reading posted on Twitter.

"Just a very small part of his playing days have been spent with the Royals, but he has amassed a medal collection that any player would be extremely proud of, winning almost everything possible during almost 20 years as a professional footballer.

"And, off the pitch, one of the nicest, most humble and genuine people you'll meet in any walk of life. Happy birthday and thank you for all your efforts during your time at Madejski Stadium, John! We wish you well in the next chapter of your career!"

O'Shea, who won 118 caps for his country, was still a regular in Ireland squads until he retired from international football last year.

His last appearance as a senior professional could come when Reading host Birmingham City on Sunday.

The English Football League (EFL) has confirmed Bolton Wanderers' postponed fixture with Brentford will not take place this week amid an ongoing player strike.

The game was initially scheduled for April 27, but Bolton were unable to field a team after players refused to play in protest at unpaid wages - a decision backed by the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA).

Hopes that the game might be played on Wednesday have been dashed by the EFL, which said in a statement that Bolton had not made arrangements to play the game at the earliest opportunity.

A proposed takeover by former Watford owner Laurence Bassini has reportedly not progressed, leaving the club facing a winding up petition on May 8 should the situation remain unresolved.

An EFL statement said: "The EFL has this morning [Tuesday] confirmed that Bolton Wanderers' suspended Championship fixture with Brentford will not be played this week.

"The EFL Board will now determine on Thursday 2 May 2019 as to what arrangements are to be put in place in regards to the fixture and Bolton Wanderers will be instructed accordingly.

"As previously advised EFL Regulations do provide for any league match to be played within four days of the end of the normal playing season (Sunday 5 May 2019).

"The EFL reserves its position in relation to the club not making the arrangements to play the game at the earliest opportunity and this matter will be brought to the attention of the Independent Disciplinary Commission the club has been referred to at the appropriate time."

Bolton's relegation to League One was confirmed when they suffered a 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa on April 19.

Marcelo Bielsa thinks it was in keeping with the spirit of English football for Leeds United to allow Aston Villa to score in Sunday's 1-1 Championship draw.

The home side were held at Elland Road, a result that means Sheffield United join Norwich City in securing automatic promotion to the Premier League.

Leeds would have mathematically had a chance of pipping Chris Wilder's side to second place in the table with a win, and it looked as though three points were on the cards when Mateusz Klich broke the deadlock 72 minutes in after the hosts refused to put the ball out of play and allow Jonathan Kodjia treatment.

A bust-up on the pitch ensued, with Anwar El Ghazi sent off for a clash with Patrick Bamford, but Bielsa then ordered his players to allow Albert Adomah to equalise following the restart.

Explaining his decision to Sky Sports, Leeds boss Bielsa said: "We just gave the goal back. Everyone saw the facts. We expressed our interpretation of the facts by doing what we did.

"English football is known for this [sportsmanship]. I don't have to comment on this kind of thing, which is common in England."

Villa boss Dean Smith praised Bielsa and Leeds for their actions after admitting he had asked his opposite number to allow them the chance to score.

"I asked him, and he went, 'No, I agree'. I think they all agreed," said Smith. "He was apologising, so I said they should let us walk a goal in. They had a talk about it and said 'okay'. I'm full of respect for them for that.

"Klich's just apologised to me after the game. He said, 'I shouldn't have done that, it's wrong'. But every credit to Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa for giving us the opportunity to put that right."

Smith also confirmed Villa will appeal against El Ghazi's red card, which was rewarded after Bamford reacted theatrically when the Dutchman swung an arm in his direction.

"I've seen it back and I think everyone else has, so I'll be absolutely amazed if that's not rescinded. We will certainly appeal that," he said.

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