Police officer seriously injured by bottle during Leeds United promotion celebrations

20 July 2020, 14:01

Thousands of Leeds United fans took to the streets to celebrate their team's promotion
Thousands of Leeds United fans took to the streets to celebrate their team's promotion. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A police officer was seriously injured by a bottle as thousands of football fans celebrated Leeds United winning the Championship.

Several others were hurt, along with members of the public, as jubilant fans took to the streets to mark their club's return to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years.

A major clean-up operation got under way in Leeds from Monday morning after roughly 7,000 descended upon the city-centre on Sunday.

Broken glass and empty cans were seen among a sea of rubbish left behind from the celebrations, during which nine people were arrested.

West Yorkshire Police said a female police officer was seriously injured after being hit by a bottle and was taken to hospital, while a number of others were hurt, along with members of the public.

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Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Oz Khan said: "Throughout the weekend, fans have gathered across Leeds to celebrate the promotion of Leeds United into the Premier League.

"We have continued to impress upon fans the importance of the Covid-19 Government guidance and our approach has primarily remained as one of engagement and encouragement.

"On Sunday, almost 7,000 people gathered in Millennium Square in Leeds.

"Whilst the vast majority of fans were enjoying themselves and celebrating, there were a small minority of people who began to throw bottles at police officers.

"A female officer suffered a serious head injury and was taken to hospital for treatment, a number of other officers suffered minor injuries and a further 15 members of the public were injured."

Millennium Square in Leeds city centre was left strewn with rubbish following Sunday's festivities
Millennium Square in Leeds city centre was left strewn with rubbish following Sunday's festivities. Picture: PA

Mr Khan said officers were deployed to Millennium Square in the centre of Leeds at noon and began to disperse the crowds in the evening.

He said the area was cleared by 11.55pm, with the nine who were arrested being taken into custody for public order offences.

The officer said: "The safety of fans and the wider public is our primary concern.

"Violence towards police officers will not be tolerated and we deployed an appropriate police response to ensure that the festivities concluded safely.

"It is important to remind the public that we must not lose sight of the fact that Covid-19 is still with us and that large gatherings are still not permitted."

The square was left strewn with litter and broken glass, leading to a significant clean-up operation on Monday.

The vast majority of fans enjoyed themselves without causing trouble
The vast majority of fans enjoyed themselves without causing trouble. Picture: PA

Large numbers of Leeds fans gathered outside their Elland Road ground when promotion to the Premier League was secured last Friday.

There are fears there may be similar scenes at the last game of the season against Charlton Athletic on Wednesday.

During a virtual press conference on Monday, Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani was asked if he had a message for fans.

Radrizzani said: "We need to be responsible. Everybody wishes to get together and celebrate and we would love to open the stadium soon.

"But if we're not following the rules and we take this superficially this might cause more cases, more problems and then we might have to postpone what we want, which is to be back at Elland Road as soon as possible.

"So I really invite them to be more cautious than they've shown in the last 24 hours. I think what I've seen is not responsible at all."