New boss Javi Gracia BLOCKED from taking Leeds training and he could miss Southampton relegation six-pointer

JAVI-N A LAUGH JAVI GRACIA has been blocked from taking Leeds training.

And he could be forced to miss Saturday’s crunch relegation six-pointer at home to Southampton.

Javi Gracia is waiting to be able to get to work at Leeds
Leeds appointed Gracia as Jesse Marsch’s successor on Tuesday.

The Spaniard, 52, signed a “flexible contract” and has been tasked with keeping the Whites in the Premier League after impressing the board with his analysis of Chelsea’s defeat to Southampton.

The Yorkshire side are currently 19th, two points from safety with 15 matches to go.

And they take on Saints at Elland Road this Saturday, knowing defeat would send them bottom – below the south-coast strugglers.

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But Leeds are still waiting for Gracia to get the green light to get to work with his new players – and be in the dugout on Saturday.

Due to new rules brought in after Brexit in January 2021, the Daily Mail reports the new manager does not automatically qualify for a work permit.

Tough-boss Gracia needs a governing body endorsement (GBE) from the FA.

However, the FA criteria needs a gaffer to have worked in a top league for at least 36 months, or two years consecutively, in the last five years.

Gracia’s last job was at Al Sadd in Saudi Arabia – not considered a ‘top’ league.

Before that he had spells at Watford from January 2018 to September 2019 and then at Valencia from July 2020 to May 2021, meaning he does not fit the FA requirements.

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It means his case must go to a three-person exceptions panel to determine if the manager is of the “highest calibre and is able to contribute significantly to the development of the game at the top level in England”.

Gracia is likely to be granted the GBE, the report adds, due to his success with Watford – taking the to the 2019 FA Cup final.

But the process could take longer than hoped for Leeds – and therefore not be all done in time for Saturday’s Southampton showdown.

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Gracia has met Leeds’ players and staff after visiting the club’s Thorp Arch training ground on Tuesday but did not take training or even conduct club media.

It means the caretaker team of Michael Skubala, Paco Gallardo and Chris Armas have continued overseeing preparations and may be in charge again at Elland Road this weekend.

If the matter doesn’t get sorted in time, it may mean Gracia’s first match in charge is away at Fulham in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday night.

Leeds’ following Premier League game is a trip to Chelsea on March 4 before returning to Elland Road to host Brighton on March 11.

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