Leeds United CEO Angus Kinnear and major fan groups on possibility of away support at Old Trafford for Manchester United opener

Leeds United CEO Angus Kinnear believes the delayed lifting of restrictions could bode well for Whites' fans hoping to visit Old Trafford and a host of Premier League grounds.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 4:59 pm
MEMORABLE OUTING - Leeds United fans hope to return to Old Trafford when their side visit Manchester United on the opening day of the Premier League season. Pic: Getty
MEMORABLE OUTING - Leeds United fans hope to return to Old Trafford when their side visit Manchester United on the opening day of the Premier League season. Pic: Getty

The UK Government was due to ease the current Covid-19 measures on June 21 but Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed this week that July 19 was the new date for ending restrictions.

Kinnear says that step could help football's case for a return to full stadia, if it has the desired impact on the spread of the virus.

Leeds share the hope of the other 19 top flight clubs that the return of fans will greet the start of the new season, which kicks off for the Whites at Manchester United on August 14.

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"We certainly hope so," he told BBC Leeds.

"We had the Premier League AGM last week and all the clubs were talking about a full return of fans. That's what we need. Even the fact the lockdown has been delayed for four weeks, which is frustrating for some sectors, it's probably good for football because it gives us more of a chance of the macro health situation being in a position where full crowds can return.

"Crowds at 25 per cent doesn't really work.

"Hopefully what's happening at Wembley this summer, at Ascot and Wimbledon can prove that crowds can return safely. I'm desperate, as I'm sure fans are, that our first home game at Elland Road is packed to the rafters."

Leeds United Supporters Trust are equally hopeful that the club will be represented in the Old Trafford stands.

"A trip to Old Trafford on opening day would be quite a way to get back to having fans in the stadium, if indeed away fans will be allowed to attend as we hope," chairman Pete Emmerson told the YEP.

"Regardless of how many fans are allowed in the ground, Leeds supporters would no doubt bring an atmosphere that Old Trafford hasn’t felt in a long time and make enough noise to show our bitterest rivals that our feelings towards them haven’t mellowed over the years.

"These are the kind of fixtures we were looking forward to seeing again in the Premier League, and after a year watching from home our appetite has only grown for the feeling of being back in the stands once again."

Chris Hall, secretary of the Leeds United Supporters Club, says the club's successful return to the top flight was more than tinged with frustration.

"The last 16 months or so have been a tough time for Leeds fans," he told the YEP.

"Although during that time the team secured a return back to the Premier League by finishing top of the Championship in emphatic style and then secured a top ten finish in our first season back in the top flight it was all done while we had to stay at home watching on television.

"We missed out on the opportunity of celebrating the successes with the players and although 8,000 fans managed to see the conclusion of the season with a victory over West Bromwich Albion there was heartbreak for many fans who sadly missed out."

He hopes every effort will be poured into the safe return of supporters for August's start date.

"I feel that after missing out on so much that it is important that we now return to some form of normality so that we can once again have the excitement of following our football team both at home and away and I feel that it is essential that everything possible is done so that Leeds fans can safely attend the opening game of the season at Old Trafford," he said.

When fans do return Kinnear backs Leeds' travelling support to remind the Premier League of just how vociferous they can be.

"That was the big disappointment last year, particularly in away games where we played well," he said.

"When Stuart Dallas wheeled away [at Manchester City] after closing his eyes and poking in a winner in injury time we all wanted him to be running towards a packed away end, and he wasn't.

"That's the one thing you want to fix. The fans are going to enjoy it. There are lots of grounds we haven't been to with an away contingent in a long while and I think we'll show those big grounds exactly how loud a Leeds away following can be."