'It only makes emotional sense' - Angus Kinnear says Leeds United will do 'whatever it takes' to see fans return for final day

The Whites managing director has been speaking about Elland Road opening its doors on the final day of the season.

By Joe Urquhart
Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 4:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 4:58 pm

Leeds United will do whatever it takes to see fans return to Elland Road this season even if it only makes emotional sense.

The Whites are playing out their first Premier League campaign in 16 years behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Leeds supporters have been locked out of grounds since March 2020 but were handed hope last month as Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined a 'road map' out of the current national lockdown across England.

If certain parameters are met, fans could be in the Elland Road stands at a reduced capacity for the final day top flight clash with West Bromwich Albion in LS11.

According to current guidelines clubs would be able to host 10,000 fans, or a quarter of a full capacity - whichever is smaller - from May 17, a date which comes six days before the hosting of the Baggies.

United managing director Angus Kinnear has conceded that financially it makes little sense to open up the doors to a minority of people. Leeds, though, will do all they can to make it happen while discussions continue over the potential impact on sporting integrity.

"Financially it's not worth doing it. Logistically it's not worth doing it. But emotionally it is worth doing it," Kinnear told BBC Radio Leeds over fans possibly returning for the final day.

Leeds United supporters watch on at Elland Road. Pic: Getty

"Even if it is just one game we know the excitement that is there amongst the fanbase to make it happen. We're very keen to get people back. From our perspective we'll do logistically whatever it takes to get people back in the stadium.

"Whether that is 10,000 or 9,000 - whatever we're allowed, we're supportive of that.

"The challenge which is being debated at Premier League level is of sporting integrity, which we do have some level of sympathy for.

"It could well be a situation where West Brom need to get something from that game to stay up and after playing the whole season behind closed doors I think it would be unfair if one game that meant so much suddenly had a very partisan crowd present.

"Our feedback to the Premier League has been if they can with the government make it the last two games, which I think is very doable from a logistical perspective, that takes away that issue.

"It lays the groundwork for a full return to fans in August at the start of next season."

Fans of teams who were deemed to be in Tier 2 by the government late last year saw 2,000 fans return for a brief period of time.

United's 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge saw Blues supporters in attendance, but Leeds fans have yet been able to attend any fixtures since the initial lockdown nearly a year ago.

Asked whether sporting integrity had already been impacted this season, Kinnear said: "At the start of the season we thought it was going to be important directionally to have some fans back on the premise that if we had some back we'd get all back.

"I think we knew it would be a disadvantage and we felt the disadvantage at Chelsea. I was surprised at the impact that 2,000 supporters could have.

"To some extent you could say it has been compromised but because it is the last game of the season and potentially there is going to be so much at stake for a number of teams I think it makes it more challenging.

"I think the simple solution would be just to have those two games back with crowds and then nobody has anything to complain about."