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Football League

Preston look to draw line under tactics 'leak'


Preston chairman Peter Ridsdale has drawn a line under the club's investigation into accusations that players leaked team information to Sheffield Wednesday ahead of Saturday's game at Hillsborough.

Ridsdale, along with manager Graham Westley, met with the Preston squad yesterday to resolve an issue that has provoked dramatic claims and counter-claims of subterfuge at Deepdale ever since the npower League One club suffered a 2-0 defeat in Sheffield.

Westley claimed immediately after the game that the Wednesday bench had told him four Preston players had informed the Wednesday camp of their intended team and tactics on Friday night, though he has refused to name the culprits.

Ridsdale had already declared himself unlikely to launch any disciplinary action against individuals, and a statement released by the North End chairman last night is apparently the end of the matter as far as he is concerned.

Ridsdale said: "Immediately following Saturday's match at Sheffield Wednesday, comments were made with regard to the 'leaking of information' regarding our team and tactics.

"Further to a number of meetings held within the club today, the club considers that this matter has now been dealt with and we will be making no further public comment on this issue."

Ridsdale had already confirmed tactical information had been divulged, but that it had not been done with any malicious intent.

"What Graham said after the game on Saturday was true," Ridsdale told the Lancashire Evening Post.

"It was almost said in the heat of the moment after the disappointment of a defeat, and it was disappointing that our pre-match preparations were known to the opposition in advance.

"I'm aware categorically where the information came from, although I don't think it was done maliciously.

"It's unfortunate that it happened, but it's time to draw a line under it and move on in order to focus on our game against MK Dons on Saturday."

The Professional Footballers' Association also questioned whether the information was leaked with an intent to hurt Preston's chances.

The PFA's assistant chief executive John Bramhall told Press Association Sport: "We've spoken with one of the players already and a couple have commented on Twitter that they could not believe any of their team-mates would deliberately jeopardise their team's chances.

"The chairman has since said information was given, but that there was no intention to undermine their team-mates and that it was not malicious.

"He accepts that and we would support that - that the information has been inadvertently leaked."

Westley did not take the same view in the aftermath of the defeat and believes he is working against forces in the dressing room.

He said: "We are where we are because the club's got a lot of losing ways installed in the playing squad and there's no better example than when their bench said that to me during the second half.

"I've got to believe their dugout when it says it to me and I think from dugout to dugout I would very rarely believe that someone would lie to me on that sort of information.

"Four players of ours yesterday (Friday), at five o'clock, revealed our team to them as a football club.

"Does it surprise me? When you've got a number of agendas within a club - and I've said since I've been here that that's the case within the playing squad here - this sort of thing happens and it's not the first time that something's happened that's surprised me.

"It's a difficult place at the moment, our club and our dressing room. But it's only by working through issues and sorting issues out that you get yourself into a winning position."