After a week of anger defined by the introduction of a ‘pie-tax’ at Leeds United, fans are planning to walk out in protest during the club’s game against Hull City on Saturday.
Exclusively revealed by the Yorkshire Evening Post on Wednesday, the ‘pie-tax’ means supporters in the South Stand will have to pay for food and drink, whether they want it or not, in the form of a £5 meal voucher tacked on to the price of a ticket.
That puts the cost of attending the Hull City game and sitting in the South Stand at £32 if booked in advance, or £37 if booked on the day of the match.
There is also considerable opposition to the manner in which owner Massimo Cellino has been running the club. Cellino is currently awaiting a Football League suspension, pending appeal.
Fans’ group South Stand SS5, set up to improve the atmosphere in the stadium in November 2013, are organising a walk-out from the stadium in the 17th minute for a 17-minute period in protest at the price hike.
The minute has been selected due to Cellino’s suspicious dislike of the number 17.
“We all know he hates the number 17,” said John Bond.
“We want to make it very clear to Cellino that he is not wanted. The way he runs the club is outrageous and we want our club back.”
Both Bond and the Leeds United Supporters’ Trust have spoken about how they contacted the club over a month ago, on November 18, to explain the price hike. Leeds have not replied at any juncture.
“We’ve also contacted the Football League and Trading Standards because we don’t think the club are within their rights to do this,” Bond said.
“There’s a big appetite among fans to protest in this way. It will be peaceful. It’s got good traction on social media.
“Maybe the whole ground won’t walk out on Saturday, but maybe more will next time. We’re confident we’re speaking for the majority of fans.”
A spokesperson for the club said: “The club is looking at ways to encourage supporters to use the facilities and catering offerings on match-days. Adult South Stand tickets are now being sold as a package, which includes the advertised standard match ticket plus meal deal voucher.
“The voucher offers a saving on the standard match-day food and drink prices, and to accommodate demand, additional catering units have been identified in the lower concourse and will be designated for serving the voucher-only meal deals.
“This new package only applies to the South Stand, and supporters have the choice to buy tickets elsewhere in the stadium at standard ticket prices.”
Fans have also set up a mock eBay auction, offering Cellino himself up for sale and criticising his conduct as owner of Leeds.
A reign full of controversy
Massimo Cellino’s time as Leeds United owner has been filled with controversy, even before the introduction of the ‘pie-tax’.
He attempted to sack manager Brian McDermott before he was even officially in charge of the club, and has dismissed five head coaches in the time since he took control on April 5, 2014.
Cellino is currently
waiting for an appeal to see whether he faces a second suspension during his ownership.
He banned himself from games on November 4, but turned up to Leeds’s loss against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.