Leeds United v Middlesbrough: Rearranged game prompts calls for a boycott of Whites fans

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A Leeds fans’ group is urging supporters to boycott next month’s rearranged Sky Bet Championship game against Middlesbrough at Elland Road.

Leeds United Supporters’ Trust claims the Football League’s decision to move the fixture from Saturday, February 13 to the following Monday at late notice in order to accommodate Sky Sports’ live broadcast is an “outrage”.

The League has expressed regret at the late rescheduling, which gave the club and its fans less than four weeks’ notice, but blamed the delay in confirming the fixture switch on legal action taken by Leeds in their bid to prevent further games from being rearranged for television coverage.

“By moving the fixture at obscenely short notice, the Football League and Sky TV have once more illustrated where fans rate on the footballing scale of decision-making - at the very bottom,” LUST said in a statement.

“These custodians of game are allegedly tasked with protecting its integrity yet have moved the match with no thought for the game’s lifeblood, match-going supporters.

“Football fans plan their lives around the league calendar and Leeds United is an internationally supported club.

“The Trust has been made aware of inconvenienced supporters from casual match-day goers resident in the city, through London-based season ticket holders unable to attend, to a group of 95 Norwegian fans whose pre-arranged return flight for the Saturday fixture departs on Monday afternoon.

“We are aware that Middlesbrough fans have similar stories. Who will compensate inconvenienced fans? The answer is, of course, depressingly familiar - no one.

“The Trust is clear, we are responding to a bottom up demand from fans, across the spectrum of our support, for action over this outrage.”

Leeds owner Massimo Cellino has been fighting a running battle with the Football League all season over the number of times his club has featured in games screened live by Sky.

The Italian claims Leeds lose out financially and that the disruption caused by fixture changes is unfair to the club’s staff and fans.

Cellino planned to ban Sky cameras from Elland Road for last month’s 2-2 draw with Derby but backed down at the last minute to avoid possible Football League charges of misconduct.

LUST added: “The demand from the support for action comes from the frustration felt not just at constant changes but the failure with this game to give even a fig-leaf of significant notice to fans.

“Less than 28 days is obscene, it should be at least twice that. If, and we hope not, the Football League and Sky Sports try to reschedule any further games this season, home or away, with scant regard for fans’ needs, then a second ‘bottom up’ boycott would be justified.”