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Leeds plays down reports of trying to dismantle Football League collective rights

English Championship second-tier football club Leeds United has denied reports that it wants to leave the Football League’s collective rights deal with UK pay-television broadcaster Sky and negotiate its own rights.

The Mail on Sunday newspaper claimed yesterday that Leeds had initiated legal action against the Football League to attempt to dismantle the collective selling of rights. The report added that club owner Massimo Cellino had put a temporary stay on the process, but added that Leeds’ match against Middlesbrough today (Monday) was only going ahead after the league had taken out a legal injunction to force the club to honour the fixture, which will be shown on Sky.

“I would like to make it clear that Leeds United is not seeking, nor has it taken legal action, to dismantle the collective selling of TV rights as has been suggested,” Leeds executive director Paul Bell said. “This model has proven extremely successful for some of the biggest leagues around the world, none more so than the Premier League… The club has, however, made it clear to both Sky and the League that it opposes the degree of control exercised by Sky over the league fixture list, and seeks transparency as to how these rights have been sold.”

Bell added that during a meeting with other league clubs on Thursday he had outlined the club’s position, and denied that Leeds had emerged as a “lone, isolated voice.” He added: “There is a growing number of clubs who now understand and share our desire for transparency.”