THE Professional Footballers’ Association do not believe any Preston player deliberately intended to undermine their club when leaking information to Sheffield Wednesday ahead of a League I defeat which impacted on Town’s bid for promotion.
North End were beaten 2-0 at Hillsborough on Saturday lunchtime, with Town’s 2-1 afternoon defeat at Carlisle leaving the third-placed Owls six points better off.
Furious Preston manager Graham Westley accused four players of informing the Wednesday camp of their intended team and tactics.
The Lancashire club’s chairman Peter Ridsdale has since confirmed tactical information was divulged, but that it had not been done with any malicious intent.
The PFA’s assistant chief executive John Bramhall said: “We’ve spoken with one of the players already and a couple have commented on Twitter that they could not believe any of their teammates would deliberately jeopardise their team’s chances.
“The chairman has since said information was given, but that there was no intention to undermine their teammates and that it was not malicious.
“He accepts that and we would support that – that the information has been inadvertently leaked.”
Ridsdale, who appointed former Stevenage boss Westley in January, has backed the manager’s claims but insisted the actions were not malicious.
“What Graham said after the game on Saturday was true,” he said.
“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.”
Westley, 44, led Stevenage to the Football League for the first time in their history in 2010 and secured back-to-back promotions last season.
Preston, who host Town a week on Saturday, have won only two of the 15 games they have played since Westley took charge and have slipped to 16th, six points above the relegation zone.
His short stay at Deepdale has so far been riddled with controversy after reports emerged that he informed players they would not be playing by text message in the early hours on the day of a game at Yeovil.