'I am heartbroken': Graffiti group claim responsibility for covering up 14 'Burley Banksy' Leeds United murals
The 'Burley Banksy' has been left devastated after 14 of his Leeds United murals were painted over by a graffiti group - including a Gary Speed tribute on what would have been his 50th birthday.
Andy McVeigh, 49, has spent the last 12 months coming up with creative designs to paint over graffiti or brighten up the dull electrical boxes and bollards.
Dubbed the 'Burley Banksy' by his friends due to his art-style and elusiveness, Andy creates pieces for iconic moments throughout the history of the club.
However, 14 pieces of Andy's work has been covered over the weekend.
The pieces covered include a poignant mural tribute to Gary Speed - which was painted over on the morning of his birthday by the group.
Now, 'Leeds Residents Against Graffiti' have claimed responsibility for the cover-up.
In an email sent to the Yorkshire Evening Post, a member of the anonymous group said: "We had a trial run using red hammerite on two boxes which had been covered by graffiti.
"The vandal then decided to repaint them, which was a foolish decision.
"This looks much more dignified than the childish scrawl of a man who should be old enough to know better.
"Let's have an end to this graffiti."
Andy has been left in disbelief by the group's actions.
He said: "I am gutted for the fans.
"I didn't sleep a wink last night after I found out, I just feel sick.
"So many people say the pieces are part of their match day experience.
"I can't believe it."
The group said they have covered the art - which Andy believes is the entire Leeds United section of his work - with 'black paint'.
They added: "It is horrible stuff but nothing will stick to it now.
"If he tries to paint over it, the new paint will just bubble off."
The graffiti group - four members including one driver and 'three brushes' - claimed 11 reasons why they have covered up the graffiti.
They are: "We represent the 90% of the citizens of Leeds who are not obsessed with Leeds United, and do not need to see public areas painted with these mindless slogans.
"We will break no laws and commit no crime. Private property and properly commissioned artwork will NOT be covered up. We will only paint over illegal graffiti.
"There are 4 of us in the painting crew – 1 van driver and 3 with brushes. We can cover ALL the Leeds United graffiti in one evening should we wish.
"We can cover up graffiti more quickly than this person can paint it.
"You call it “mindless vandalism”, which we find insulting. In fact this is not mindless, and we have simply covered up unauthorised graffiti.
"We have no interest in soccer and have nothing against Leeds United or their fans (except disinterest).
"The assumption of a Manchester connection is hilarious. We just used the first paint to hand; this time we used black but may use purple, orange, grey etc. Red is of no significance to us.
"This “artist”, (who is clearly not of the ability or wit of Bansky himself) should be old enough and responsible enough not to indulge in his childish obsession. His actions are no better than those of the “taggers” that he claims to dislike.
"It amuses us to read the slurs about “insecurities and issues” that this person accuses us of. We are not the ones with an obsession to paint graffiti on public property.
"We have no interest in “having a coffee” with this person. He simply needs to desist in his vandalism.
"All the Leeds United slogans and badges that he has painted WILL be covered by us."
Andy said he didn't know what the future would hold for his work after the latest cover-up.
He said: "I am dismayed and angry.
"It just makes no sense.
"One hundred percent of people I have spoken to have been positive about it.
"It is frightening, it really is."