Leeds United: More fixture frustration as Sky impose Monday night Brighton trip

Leeds fans away at Blackburn Rovers
Leeds fans away at Blackburn Rovers
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Leeds United are facing a Monday night trip to Brighton in February after falling foul of more rearrangements imposed on behalf of Sky Sports.

In a move which has reignited the debate over fixture disruption, United’s game at The Amex - originally scheduled for Saturday, February 27 - will be staged 48 hours later following Sky’s decision to broadcast the match live.

The change to the club’s fixture list is the latest in a spate of alterations caused by Leeds’ large number of televised appearances this season, including tonight's trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

United have been selected for live broadcasts no fewer than 10 times between August and January and the persistent disruption is the source of on-going arguments between owner Massimo Cellino and the Football League.

Cellino - currently under threat of an ownership ban from the League - took the controversial step in October of restricting United’s ticket allocations at away grounds to 2,000 in what he said was a protest against excessive changes and financial shortfalls incurred by Leeds during televised home games.

That restriction was rapidly withdrawn following fierce criticism from United fans but Cellino and the League remain at odds over the issue and the 59-year-old has made requests to view the terms of the contract drawn up between the governing body and Sky.

Leeds had the biggest average away attendance last season, standing at more than 2,700, and the club are maintaining the highest average again this season. They took more than 1,800 fans to their last game at The Amex, on a Tuesday night in February of this year.

Two months ago Cellino arranged a meeting of fans’ groups to discuss the problem of fixture disruption but the matter has been overshadowed by recent unrest at Elland Road and doubts about whether the 59-year-old intends to retain his shares in Leeds.

A spokesman for the Leeds United Supporters Trust (LUST) said: “The Trust is not surprised to find that for the fifth successive season Brighton away will be a night game.

“We are, however, somewhat disappointed that what constitutes our longest journey of the season has been subjected to fixture disruption, on top of the considerable fixture disruption Leeds fans have been subjected to this season.

“The people at Sky and the Football League shouldn’t be too surprised if they find that they have to turn down the microphones at tonight’s instalment of another television game. The scheduling takes no account of supporters' needs."

Thomas Christiansen directs his players from the sidelines at Loftus Road on Saturday afternoon. 
Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Watch: Thomas Christiansen’s post-match press conference after Leeds United’s 3-1 win at QPR