This afternoon Leeds United supporters will conduct a protest against a ‘PIE TAX’ when they face Hull City at Elland Road in the Yorkshire Derby (3pm KO).
Leeds owner, Massimo Cellino, has increased the ticket price of the South Stand by £5. This £5 increase will include a food voucher, intended as an incentive to encourage supporters to use the clubs catering facilities.
The fans are simply outraged at the owners’ decision to enforce the new ticket price, without consultation.
This new price will be applied to today’s fixture against Championship rivals, Hull City. Supporters in the South Stand will now be obliged to pay an increased price of £32 for the luxury of watching their home side, in contrast to supporters in the North Stand who will pay the usual £27. However, they will have the comfort of a half time pie – this is assuming that the loyal supporter wants to eat a pie at half time.
To be honest this incentive provides more ammunition for the case of Fan Ownership in football. This ‘pie tax’ surely has to be the last straw for a football club who for the worst part of 15 years have suffered from financial mismanagement and poor ownership. To pay an extra fiver for the price of your ticket you would be expecting a better seat, better players, or a better manager. This is simply ludicrous governance. I would think if you were seeking to encourage supporter attendance, and overall buy in from the support, then you would sell tastier pies at a reduced cost. But that seems too far fetched.
Owner, Massimo Cellino, is by no means a popular figure at Elland Road. His controversies have lead to the Football League banning the chairman from running the club on not one but two separate occasions. The first ban occurred in December 2014, after Italian courts found the owner guilty of tax evasion. The chairman appealed against the decision but was unsuccessful. The second ban occurred in October 2015. Again, the owner submitted an appeal against the decision but it appears he has so far been unsuccessful. Finally, to cement his undying love for Leeds United, last month the chairman vowed to no longer attend fixtures and removed his interest in selling the club to the supporters group, Leeds Fans United.
It is clear that Cellino has no loyalty to the club, and shows complete contempt to the Leeds support. The Whites have been made to endure the hardest of times and it goes without saying that they simply deserve more.
There is no question that the club would have fell to rubble by now had it not been for the loyalty of the fans. Football clubs are like no other business on the planet. If you use a product and you don’t particularly like it, then you change it and try a new one. This does not happen in football. Football is part of our identity, it is our cultural grandstand. The Leeds fans have proved this today. Even with the ‘pie tax’ the loyal support SOLD OUT their South Stand, and every home fixture welcomes 20,000 loyal whites. These supporters MUST be rewarded for their undying and lasting loyalty to their football club.
Leeds United is far from the riches and royalties of the Premier League; the club currently sits 17th in the Championship. The supporters must fight their majority share holder, Cellino, and take over the governance of their once proud club. For too long they have suffered at the hands of turbulent mismanagement, discouraging the club from gaining any form of stability or transparency. Perhaps a greater victory would be to win the battle, and for now, lose the war.