Leeds United chief's warning ahead of West Brom game with Elland Road 'well below' 25 per cent capacity
Elland Road will be 'well below' 25 per cent of its capacity for Leeds United's final game of the season against West Brom, says Whites CEO Angus Kinnear.
Supporters will make their long-awaited return to the LS11 stadium for the clash with the already-relegated Baggies on Sunday May 23, thanks to the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
The last time the Whites played in front of their own fans was back in March 2020 and since then they have won the Championship title and secured a midtable Premier League position.
Government guidelines say up to 10,000 fans or 25 per cent capacity, whichever figure is lower, will be allowed at larger outdoor venues like Elland Road from May 17 and Leeds have already announced and opened a ballot for season ticket holders to decide who will be able to buy tickets for the West Brom game.
But the closure of the John Charles West Stand, which since the sport returned from the initial pandemic lockdown has housed a red zone for players and staff and an amber zone for a restricted number of media personnel, will impact the capacity of the stadium.
Kinnear has warned fans not to expect an Elland Road experience as they remember it.
"Our final fixture against West Bromwich Albion should see us welcome a small number of home supporters and be the first step on what is planned to be a short path back to normality," said Kinnear, before the Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed crowds would return to grounds from mid May.
"I know we have all missed the camaraderie and exhilaration of the fortnightly pilgrimage to LS11, but nobody has missed it more than the players and there is a sense of excitement in the dressing room around what we might be able to achieve next season when Premier League opposition have to contend with the Elland Road cauldron for the first time.
"However, supporters should recognise that the West Brom matchday will be a poor imitation of the experience we all love. With a 'red zone' in operation in the West Stand for the players and officials, available capacity will be well below the 25 per cent target.
"Supporters who do attend will then be subjected to a regime of questionnaires, tests and scans which mercifully falls just short of a full body cavity search."
The club's chief executive has called on supporters to be patient, particularly in their dealings with Leeds United staff, ahead of a matchday that will more closely resemble normality but still fall some way short and fail to satisfy the majority of the fanbase.
"I ask all supporters to cooperate with our ticking staff and stewards who will be entrusted with executing a solution we know is less than elegant and will leave the majority of supporters disappointed," he said.
"Nevertheless, it will bring us one important game closer to being back together en masse where we will then be able to take a collective moment to celebrate the successes of the last two years and pay tribute to the leading members of the Leeds United family that we have lost."