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Leeds fans say they 'weren't going to miss out' on celebrations despite pleas to stay away from club
23 July 2020, 12:31
Leeds United fans have said they "weren't going to miss out" on the chance to celebrate the club's return to the Premiership despite pleas from club bosses to stay away from its open top bus parade.
It comes after Leeds United defended their decision to ask fans to stay home as they paraded the trophy through the city centre.
Players were driven in an open-top bus at Elland Road after their Sky Bet Championship title trophy presentation.
Leeds United fans told LBC: "It's tough for the club because we've waited so long for this and I feel bad for all the fans that have missed out on this moment we've waited so long for.
"It feels like anyone who followed the club's advice ended up missing out on what was probably one fo the best moments of my life but they've done the right thing and they shouldn't feel hard done by, there will be another time.'
Another said: "I understand staying at home to a point but we have been starved of success for so many years so you can completely understand why people have come out.
"A lot of people did stay away but we weren't going to miss out. We couldn't miss that after 16 years."
However, one fan said he decided to make the "hard decision" to stay at home.
"I watched it on tv in the end and decided not to come down, which was a very difficult decision.
"To be honest, I wish I'd been here but you have to be safe and sensible."
Both Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani and managing director Angus Kinnear had appealed before the game for Leeds fans to help in the fight against coronavirus by staying at home.
But thousands of supporters gathered outside Elland Road and the players boarded the bus to join in the celebrations after their pitchside trophy presentation had concluded.
Leeds had already sealed promotion back to the Premier League as champions and a 4-0 home win against Charlton in their final match sparked more celebrations outside the stadium.
"Following consultation with the SAG (Safety Advisory Group) and (Leeds City) Council, Leeds United arranged for a bus to be parked outside the East Stand reception as a contingency to assist dispersal should a crowd congregate at Elland Road, despite a month-long campaign from the club and supporter groups to encourage supporters to stay at home," said a club spokesman.
"The safety group believed that a brief appearance from the players with the Championship trophy would help to signal an end to proceedings, encouraging fans to head home safely.
"In challenging circumstances, fan safety has always been our priority."
Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa was also on the bus, but he declined to speak to the fans and did not turn up for his post-match press conference.
Goals from Ben White and Stuart Dallas gave Leeds a 2-0 half-time lead before substitutes Tyler Roberts and Jamie Shackleton added two more Charlton were consigned to relegation.
On 19 July, thousands of Leeds United fans descended on Millennium Square for huge celebrations after the club secured their promotion to the Premiership.
There were also scenes of rowdy celebrations with pictures showing smoke from flares.
Leeds-born boxing champion Josh Warrington was spotted among the crowd.
Celebrations at Elland Road began on Friday night after West Brom lost to Huddersfield, and several vehicles were damaged.