Monday 14 January 2019 17:25, UK
Derby manager Frank Lampard has dismissed suggestions that his former club Chelsea previously used 'spying' tactics similar to those employed by Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa.
The former Chelsea midfielder was left angered when a Leeds employee was removed from Derby's training ground a day ahead of the Sky Bet Championship leaders' 2-0 victory over his side at Elland Road on Friday evening.
Shortly after the game, a 2011 Telegraph interview with Andre Villas-Boas resurfaced, during which he admitted that while working under Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho he would "travel to training grounds, often incognito" to secretly watch opposition in training to illicit further information.
"To say this thing is commonplace in the modern game, I don't believe it all," Lampard, who spent 13 years at Stamford Bridge, said.
"There were talks about Chelsea used to do this years ago - I certainly wasn't aware of it and I don't believe it at all.
"Certainly not in the form that it's happened this time."
Bielsa admitted that sending a staff member to Derby's training session was regular procedure for him, with the incident now under investigation by the Football Association and English Football League.
The two bodies are understood to be in communication on the matter, but there are currently no rules relating to inter-club espionage.
"I know it's a conversation between the FA and the EFL, so whether it's league or FA, it's for them to decide and for them to decide if they feel it's worthy of a punishment," Lampard added.
"It's how much the league or the FA decide they want to stop what happened going forward, or if they don't."
Although the Leeds employee was removed by police at the request of Derby, he was not breaking any laws by observing the training session.
However, Lampard was keen to reiterate that the individual was in possession of pliers and could in fact have gone on to break the law if there had not been an intervention.
"Legal in terms of law has never been the actual benchmark of sport, there are different benchmarks and the fact is it wasn't peeking over a fence," Lampard said.
"It was on hands and knees with pliers in hand, so it seems that there was intention and it stopped before that."
Derby return to action on Wednesday evening as they travel to Southampton for their FA Cup third-round replay.