October 27, 2020

Leeds United defend open-top bus celebration after stay home plea

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Media captionLeeds United players celebrate on a bus outside Elland Road.

Leeds United have defended the decision to parade the Championship trophy from an open-top bus in front of fans after previously telling people to stay away.

Thousands of fans gathered outside the club’s ground to celebrate the club’s return to the top flight.

Officials, including the club’s chief executive, had urged them to celebrate at home.

However, following the 4-0 home win over Charlton, the team made a brief appearance outside the ground.

Image copyright Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Image caption Hundreds of Leeds fans gathered at Elland Road to celebrate the club lifting the Championship trophy
Image copyright Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Image caption The club’s chief executive had earlier urged them to stay home, saying they would “celebrate when the time was right”

Chief executive Angus Kinnear had urged fans to stay away from the game, saying when the time was right “we will celebrate in style”.

But in a later statement the club said: “Following consultation with the Safety Advisory Group and council, Leeds United arranged for a bus to be parked outside the East Stand reception as a contingency to assist dispersal should a crowd congregate at Elland Road, despite a month-long campaign from the club and supporter groups to encourage supporters to stay at home.

“The safety group believed that a brief appearance from the players with the Championship trophy would help to signal an end to proceedings, encouraging fans to head home safely.

“In challenging circumstances, fan safety has always been our priority.”

Image caption Fans cheered the team from outside the ground as they beat Charlton 4-0
Image copyright Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Image caption People of all ages came along to mark the occasion
Image copyright Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Image caption Flares were set off as fans celebrated

The move attracted criticism on social media, particularly from those who had heeded the original advice to stay away issued by the club.

Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police also urged fans to stay away over concerns about coronavirus.

It comes after supporters gathered outside the ground on Friday to celebrate the club’s return to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years.

On Sunday, about 7,000 fans packed the city’s Millennium Square.

Image copyright George Wood/Getty Images
Image caption About 7,000 fans gathered in the city centre on Sunday to celebrate the club’s promotion

In contrast to the scenes outside the ground, the trophy was presented inside an almost empty stadium.

Image copyright Tim Goode/PA Wire
Image caption Leeds celebrate the title win inside a near-empty Elland Road

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