Is The Worm Starting To Turn? Cardiff Fans Walk Out Of Elland Road

By on Oct 31, 2011 in English League Football, Latest | 33 comments

In some respects it was inevitable that a group of fans would collectively reach a breaking point, and take a stand at the way supporters are treated by many professional clubs. However the fact that it happened at Elland Road yesterday, and the Cardiff City fans concerned ended up boycotting the end of a game where they had already paid was still a surprise.

Cardiff City fans don’t have the greatest of reputations, most notably due to the actions of the Soul Crew – one of the most notorious of the hooligan firms of the 70s, 80s and 90s – and matches between the Bluebirds and Leeds United have had flashpoints in the past (most notably the FA Cup Third Round game between the two in 2002. However, while I would never defend nor condone hooliganism, not every Cardiff City fan is a hooligan. In fact the vast majority of Bluebirds fans are law abiding citizens, and most of their away following just want to follow their team round the country, like fans of most teams. In fact, the club has brought in so many effective measures designed to reduce hooliganism at Cardiff games, that they are the current holders of the title “Football League Family Club of the Year”

However, unlike fans from most other teams, Cardiff City fans have to jump through the more than the occasional hoop when travelling away from home. In recent seasons Wolverhampton Wanderers banned all Cardiff fans from attending, and the Police have a stronger presence at games where flashpoints have occurred in similar fixtures in the past. And while there are good reasons for certain actions taken by the authorities, because the decisions have been taken with the general public’s safety in mind, but sometimes decisions made by police, stewards and/or the clubs themselves go too far. And yesterday’s treatment of Cardiff City fans at Elland Road was one of those occasions.

First of all, the game kicked off at 1.15pm. Not the ideal time and day for weekend football, but the “heated rivalry” aspect was one of the reasons why the game was selected for live screening by Sky. One might expect that such a game with a heated rivalry might usually be moved to a Sunday by the police (as happens with local derbies up and down the country), with an early kickoff as a matter of course. Not so. Cardiff have only played at Elland Road in the League four times in the last seventeen years – and all of these have taken place since 2005. Apart from the meeting between the two in October 2010 (which was also switched to a Monday night for television coverage), all of the other meetings between the two have taken place at the traditional time of 3pm on a Saturday.

As well as the time, there come the excessive prices at Elland Road. These apply to all fans at all clubs, and Leeds fans bear the brunt of one of the most expensive ticket schemes outside the Premier League. Adult tickets were £36, with the “concessions” being a bargain £29 and £25 for seniors and children respectively, for a seat at the southern end of in the West Stand Upper (an area that Leeds have struggled to sell tickets to home fans in the past, mainly because it offers the worst view of Elland Road, with the far goal obscured). However, Cardiff fans were not able to get these tickets from the ticket office in Cardiff – they had to collect them from Woolley Edge service station on the M1, eleven miles away from Elland Road – between 10.45am and 11.30am – before being escorted to the ground. This meant that you either had to drive (an option presumably only allowed for non-Cardiff based fans), or take the coaches laid on by the club, and even then you either had to be a season ticket holder and be an away member with photo membership card to get a ticket in the first place. This membership scheme one of the many successful measures that Cardiff have brought in to try and curb their hooligan element.

Once in the ground, the treatment of the fans did not improve. As well as being filmed and photographed from the front of the stand by a handful of police officers, the stewards started ejecting large numbers of fans for persistent standing (something that also recently happened when Portsmouth visited Elland Road, and is becoming a common occurrence at grounds). Now, contrary to popular belief, standing up at a Premier League or Championship ground is not illegal. The Football Spectators Act states that clubs in the top two tiers have to provide all-seater stadia, not that fans have to use the seats. This was confirmed by a letter from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to the Football Supporter’s Federation in 2008 stated ‘At no point has it been argued that the individual spectator commits a criminal offence by standing in a seated area. ‘Persistent standing; however is against Leeds United’s ground regulations – but this is the case for almost all Premier League and Championship clubs, and the standard ground regulations that the Football League pass on to their member clubs state: ‘Nobody may stand in any seating area whilst play is in progress. Persistent standing in seated areas whilst play is in progress is
strictly forbidden and may result in ejection from the ground’. However, in reality most clubs try and adopt a relaxed attitude towards fans standing in seated areas (Richard Scudamore is quoted as saying that ‘a measure of persistent standing should be tolerated’ at a meeting of the Football Licensing Authory in 2006) and surely, if the game was being treated as such a potential flashpoint in the build up by the police, that surely the stewards should have taken an approach to turn a blind eye, rather than risk inflaming what the local police had otherwise considered such a delicate situation.

However, the action that approximately 100 of the Cardiff City contingent took, was not to respond to such heavy-handed tactics in kind. Instead, they walked out in solidarity, and began demonstrating outside the ground, in protest at the ejection of their fellow supporters. The demonstration was subsequently filmed by the police and a representative of the Football Supporters Federation – the Leeds stewards attempted to stop the FSF representative filming, and demanded his footage, but this was refused (as stewards have no legal right to do this). As a one-off protest, what will this mean? So far, it has hardly been reported in the media, and Ken Bates will hardly be bothered, as the boycotting fans will already have handed over their money to him – but yesterday’s events were clearly the final straw for a number of fans, many of whom will decide to visit fewer away games (and maybe even home games too) in future, and if one group of fans decide to boycott a game while they are leading, what is to stop other fans making similar points, by going through the type of rigmarole that the Cardiff fans were subjected to yesterday, but stopping short of paying to get into the game?

In a year where the FA Premier League have threatened to withhold funding from Supporters Direct and the Football League clubs, and at a time when clubs are continue to increase the cost of watching the game, individual fans have been making decisions to stop funding football – in part, in total, or just at certain levels of the game, but most of these decisions have been made individually, with no real message sent to the authorities that when it comes to handing over money, most professional clubs now view fans as customers, yet fans are increasingly finding that they are no longer treated as customers once they have paid the entrance fee. However, this type of instantaneous protest sits alongside a number of protests being arranged to show the clubs, authorities and television channels exactly just how important supporters are to the game, and who actually funds the game in the first place. And if clubs want to continue accepting the custom of fans, they may have to start treating them as customers, otherwise fans might start acting like customers, and like the Cardiff fans yesterday, vote with their feet.

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    33 Comments

  1. Attendances have been pathetic at ER this season, and alienating away fans isn’t helping matters. It’s indicative however of Ken Bates’ regime – he cares little for the every day fan, and more about his corporate guests. Just look at the amount of funds he’s spent on conference facilities and boxes, compared to the squad.

    Small note about the article – it’s Woolley “Edge” services, not Woolley End. Sorry to be pedantic, I used to work there many years ago so it stood out.

    The Scratching Shed

    October 31, 2011

  2. Thanks for the correction TSS – I’d copied the name from Cardiff’s wbsite, corrected their typo (they called it Wooley Edge) and added one of my own.

    Rob

    October 31, 2011

  3. There was a bit of a boycott before the game by some Cardiff Supporters due to the ridiculous cost of the tickets, and the fact they had to be collected en masse then led into the game by the police.
    Watching the game on the box it looks as though Leeds could do with as many bums on seats (figure of speach) as possible,overpricing and over zealous stewarding is not the way to achieve that.
    The drama and the cost certainly helped me to make my decision to stay at home, and watch on the box.

    jimmy johnston

    October 31, 2011

  4. Excellent article. Articulates perfectly what we Cardiff City fans are feeling.
    Thank you.

    Griff105

    October 31, 2011

  5. Rob – great article. Elland Road – away fans don’t want to be there and neither do a vast number of home fans. The way that away fans are being treated isn’t right. If anything, it’s more likelt to incite trouble than prevent it.

    To put it in perspective, last night’s attendance – 20,217 was lowest in a league match at Elland Road for 20 months (vs Oldham Ath. 23rd Feb 2010 – 17,635) and yes, that was in League One.

    Colin

    October 31, 2011

  6. I have absolutely no love for Cardiff or their support, particularly after their appalling behaviour at the above mentioned FA cup tie, however there comes a point when all reasonable supporters must come together and tell the “jobs worth’s” and the Bates’ of this world that they have gone too far – the game belongs to us not the corporate faggots, the FA, the FL, the PL, the Police, the dodgy directors, etc, etc…………………………….

    Maz

    October 31, 2011

  7. “Adult tickets were £36, with the “concessions” being a bargain £29 and £25 for seniors & childred”

    wow. just wow.

    Have they got to the bottom of who owns Leeds yet either?!

    Rob

    October 31, 2011

  8. Fair play to the Cardiff fans, if I had known, I would have come out and joined you. Things will have to change soon or I will be joining the thousands of others giving up on the game. I would like to just blame Bates, but its the whole game, it just gone mad

    RickHx

    October 31, 2011

  9. As a Leeds United supporter I am utterly ashamed of how the away fans are treated. The view of the new sheep pen where the coaches are gathered looks like something from Iraq, not England. And the price of the tickets has always been too expensive at Elland Road for both home and away fans, a problem that has now increased by moving the away fans into the most expensive are in the ground.

    I for one felt like joining in with the Cardiff supporters on Sunday – they were treated in a very shabby way, and I’m embarrassed to have been in the home end when they were treated like that.

    The sooner Bates is out of our club the better – he is ruining our reputation. Like many clubs who are ‘hated’ our reputation has been built on a great support both home and away, and the behaviour of our away support has been praised on many occasions recently. Our reputation is now being damaged by a man who doesn’t care for what we stand for, or the feelings of our own supporters. Remember the electric fences at Chelsea in the 80′s ? He is simply a megalomaniac with no care for anyone else but himself. He has no connection to Leeds United and our proud history except for the fact that he owns the club , and like a spoilt child taking home their football, he will do with it how he pleases, and stuff the ‘morons’ who turn up week in and week out.

    Many many apologies to the Cardiff fans, and any away fans who will be turning up soon – I’d love you all to come up to Elland Road and find a passionate and , dare I say it , hostile atmosphere which shows just how much we as home supporters love and support our club. Instead you are all faced with over zealous stewarding , being moved around like sheep, and a small and quiet home support, and paid for by over-the-top prices.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of Mr Kenneth Bates.

    Thank God he saved our club – we are so lucky

    Andy

    October 31, 2011

  10. As a season ticket holder at Elland Road for many years, Ken Bates policies with regards to ticket prices have been proved generally correct – he would tell you that fewer fans paying more money has equalled higher profits.

    However, this season the treatment of away fans, in terms of being moved to the worst part of the ground and paying the highest ticket prices, seems to be back-firing. Despite our form being quite good in the last few weeks and us being on the fringe of the play-offs, the attendances are dropping week by week. We’ve also not sold out our last two away allocations, when we’ve been selling out these for the past 3 seasons or so.

    Leeds fans are right up there with being treated poorly by away clubs and police – unsociable kick off times, similar tactics with regards to playing away at Cardiff and Millwall in terms of collecting tickets at service stations on the way there, and heavy policing, but still they have travelled in huge numbers.

    The time has come I think for the Football authorities to tackle this rising problem – poor treatment of away fans by police and the home clubs (Leeds included) will eventually lead to dwindling away support, especially in the current economic climate. Fair play to the Cardiff fans who took the action they did – it will make no difference to Bates, as protests by Leeds fans this season about his ownership and running of the club have had no effect whatsoever.

    The Football League and Football Supporters groups are the only ones who can tackle this problem, but I can’t see them doing anything in the near future.

    Will large groups of fans from many clubs making a stand make them look at the problem? Fans will not boycott games on a large enough scale – we’re all too loyal, passionate or stupid (take your pick) to do this.

    Any other ideas anyone?

    Fish

    October 31, 2011

  11. I was sat in the diagnoally opposite side to the Cardiff fans and they seemed to be forced to stand up because the line of police were all stood up down the side of them.

    LUFC is going to the dogs under “Ratner” Bates. Us morons have already stopped buying any merchandise – we all take our own and frequent local pubs. We are loyal to our club and our team and our players and manager – but not to Bates nor Harvey.

    If they want a successful club, they need to take us with them. That means being fair to those of us that ploughed money in when we had to to save our club. Bates did not do that, we did. He would do well to understand that because he is doing his best to make sure we all do a Posnan on him.

    666

    October 31, 2011

  12. It’s about time that fans from all over the country got together and made a real protest of this, now that would get coverage and it would get the point across just imagine Leeds Cardiff Man U The Gooners The Toon Army ect all getting together say in London or some other BIG city and saying to all of the clubs enough is enough. Just a thought MOT.

    Mark

    October 31, 2011

  13. First idea – join the Football Supporters’ Federation and support their ‘Watching Football is Not A Crime Campaign’.

    Second idea – know your rights – stewards often overstep their authority. Politely and firmly tell them where the line is.

    The FSF runs information evenings where experts in the field can inform fans more fully.

    Check the campaigns section of the website: http://www.fsf.org.uk

    SJMaskell

    October 31, 2011

  14. Elland Road has lost its atmosphere now, thats due to the treatment of away fans.
    Sticking them in the west stand out the way is a stupid idea.
    Last season i sat in the southstand for around 15 home games next to the away fans because the atmosphere was great.
    This season Elland road is like a church because bates wants all the coperate payers in

    Nick

    October 31, 2011

  15. i can only say that Elland Road is now well over priced and i will not be able to afford to take my family at the cost of 94.00 per game. i was a steward a few years ago and it has always been the same telling fans to sit down there is no passion when your bum is sat down and the stewards are directed by bully boy bossies. leeds fans were ejected for not sitting down at the Hull match and it was crazy 5 stewards 2 police officers to take 2 lads out. We need to let fans have there voice back and sing.

    stuart gaunt

    October 31, 2011

  16. Stop bleating on and dry your eyes.
    We have had to put up with more than ANY other club in the land over the years, if they dont like, dont come, simple as that, I go but dont like the pricing, cops or stewards but wont pay when we’re on telly.
    Hate bates with a passion and hate cardif who are well gobby behind an escort.
    I was one of the United fans that was charged £50 for a ticket at Anderlect in 2001 for CL game where we had more than 4000.
    If you dont like it, STAY AWAY.

    lecter

    October 31, 2011

  17. I agree with lecter, if you don’t want to be treated like crap like he is, then don’t go. However, if you like paying lots of money to be treated like a criminal then just carry on.

    By the way, a Leeds fan calling Cardiff fans gobby is just a little bit rich!

    ToonDanno

    October 31, 2011

  18. The problem with Bates is he thinks Leeds are still a big attraction, he thinks people will pay big money because its “LEEDS UTD”, well Mr Bates, you need to wake up & smell the coffee, you are not a big attraction anymore,take a look at your teamsheet, as Lecter says ,loads of your own fans wont even pay to watch if its on tv. Less and less away fans will be turning up at Elland road if they continue to be treated this way. Football hooliganism is fading away and its time Bates moved from the dark ages and started treating the fans (home and away) with more respect. I went to the leeds away game twice with Cardiff, but no more thanks.

    Taffy Humbug

    October 31, 2011

  19. Excellent article. I gave up on a lot of Cardiff away games some time ago as the growing restrictions, police harassment and corresponding lack of fun just made it a frustrating experience.

    mike

    November 1, 2011

  20. as leeds season ticket older who been going to ellend road since the 60s this will be my final season enough is enough we are being fleeced 4 pound for a program 36 pound for away supporters most dearest season tickets then most premier clubs all this from a working class area no love for cardiff fans but they deserve better because its wrong end of

    paul holt

    November 1, 2011

  21. Very good piece, hadn’t read anything about this previously in the MSM so good to get the info here.

    Ultimately football is a reflection of society however, so it comes as no surprise to me that issues like price increases, heavy-handed policing, increasingly invasive and persistent monitoring and surveillance and the increasing consumerisation of the ‘target audience’ – in this case the supporter – would creep into the game we know and love. Sadly inevitable.

    Jonathan

    November 1, 2011

  22. Great article thanks Rob. I used to be a regular at Cardiff away games some time back but the restrictions were getting out of hand decided to call it a day on most trips. I’m 4000 miles away now anyway but it got to the point where I just wasn’t enjoying the constant harassment and hard work of it all. I used to enjoy the drive with firends, finding a local pub and mixing with the home fans.Yes a minority of fans used to overstep the mark but those incidents were few and far between. Great to see Mike from Urban75 posting!

    Africanbluebird

    November 1, 2011

  23. All you Leeds fans bleating on about poor old away fans being treated badly by Mr Bates need to get off your soapboxes. Where was your moral outrage when we were being charged £36 for restricted view tickets at Orient in League One? Or when we were forced to travel only on official coaches to Cardiff and to get our tickets from a service station on the M4 these last few fixtures in South Wales? Or over the years when West Midlands Police arbitrarily and randomly ejected Leeds fans from matches just to show us who’s boss? If you were really bothered you’d have spoken up then. But no, you didn’t. Yet you’d rather apologise to away fans than give Ken Bates credit for anything, no matter whether it’s beneficial to Leeds United. Its pathetic.

    Lufc92

    November 1, 2011

  24. Great article, and as you stated we wish this was a 1 off, but sadly not. Last season we were kept outside the ground (for no reason) until after ko, and also it is not just west yorkshire police who seem to discriminate against us Cardiff fans, we have en-counted the wrath of several other force’s throughout england where we have had to travel to grounds at ridiculous times (norwich away on a tuesday night, then have bristol city away on a saturday ? ) also this was not the first time we have had to travel miles away to rendezvous with police to collect ticket’s for games, but as was stated enough is enough, with travel on the coaches it cost £61 (adult prices) to go to the game, so leaving in protest shows how strongly the fans feel. We would appreciate all help from every football fan. Thank you.

    charlie edros

    November 1, 2011

  25. Agree it’s crap at Elland Road now. Just for the record though – my away ticket this season at Ipswich was £40 in that crumbling stand. As Leeds fans we get charged top dollar and treat like crap everywhere and have done for a long time – but we still turn up in numbers.

    It will however never change while the game is on TV

    MD

    November 1, 2011

  26. I was a regular visitor at Elland Road, until this season, but I have grown tired of the overpriced tickets and arrogant attitude of Ken bates and the club he owns.
    It pains me that every week, I have to tell my son that we are not going again, but at 16, he is beginning to understand both my stance and my views.
    The away fans are being treated in a very bad way at the moment and I would actually take some pleasure out of it all if the word gets around and they stop coming – £36 for that view, I don’t think so.
    I wish for nothing more than to return to the club I love, but I will only do so when that ‘love’ is returned.

    Andy (Rotherham)

    November 1, 2011

  27. Good artice thanks – also worth mentioning that the bars were also shut – so no opportunity for a beer either. You mentioned the Cardiff City Stadium experience – friendly stewards, fantastic facilities including play stations and pre match entertainment in the away section. Certain games the away fans and the Cardiff family section are allowed to mix as well. Progress from us. A reversal from Leeds…

    Jones the Job

    November 1, 2011

  28. Sympathy………NO!
    I stood as the Cardiff fans were brought in from the coaches to the west stand…..listerning to the torant of abuse coming from them aimed at kids in wheels chairs, women, old men, some with grandchildren, and mainly stewards and police.
    If they want respect then maybe it should start from within.
    Sitting in the west stand all you could hear was continual abuse hurled at Leeds fans officials and police from Cardiff fans….this day and age you deserve to get ejected.

    Lobster

    November 1, 2011

  29. I am a season ticket holder at Elland Road.

    I have sympathy for those Cardiff fans, I’m afraid it is symptomatic of the way things are going at Leeds home games where over zealous stewarding by under qualified people inevitably causes tensions every single time.

    Add to that the overkill that was the policing at the match on Sunday ( Lines of police in riot gear stood outside of the family stand after the game !!) it certainly does not add to the matchday experience.

    Ken Bates and Leeds United as a club seem intent on driving the average fan away and have achieved a situation where the relationship between the club and it fans (Who loyally stood by it during years of mediocrity) is almost completely severed. Many people have voted with their feet and many more have boycotted the clubs merchandise. The chairman is content to label those who complain ‘dissidents’ and ‘morons’

    Its a sad situation but one man is slowly suffocating our club.

    Lebowski

    November 1, 2011

  30. Really good article, experienced the same sort of thing as a home fan as well (not at ER) – on one hand you get told to sit down and shut up, the next day the club is making statements in the media saying the fans arnt being vocal enough and getting behind the team.
    Takes the fun out of the game but in addition to all of the hoops you have to jump through to watch your team play away its almost not worth the effort.

    Rick

    November 1, 2011

  31. Very good read, I’ll sort you out an F’s badge. I am told the “Leader” of the Elland Road faithful is sorting a Fisting session in their KOP tomorrow to sort the Stewards out as they were perturbed at our treatment.
    FKTS

    KBEES

    November 1, 2011

  32. “Where was your moral outrage when we were being charged £36 for restricted view tickets at Orient in League One?”

    This is absurd fantasy. Not even Arsenal fans had pay pay more than the standard admssion fee for out 5th round FA cup game last season.
    Yes the O’s East stand is old and tatty, but, bar a few pillars, has a reasonable view of the pitch compared the the vile little corner we got stuck in at Elland Road a few years back. Some of the meekest, friendliest and trouble-free fans in the country were videoed too by the Yorkshire filth, and the stewards yanked plenty of easy targets out.
    LUFC92 and Mr Bates deserve each other

    Annabels

    November 1, 2011

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  1. Cardiff Fans walk out of Elland Road in protest - RedPassion.co.uk - Wrexham - [...] Fans walk out of Elland Road in protest See …
  2. Twohundredpercent – Policing Football Fans: Civil Liberties Or Taking Liberties? - [...] stewarding by Leeds United belie the idea that policing of football fans has evolved.  Cardiff City, Portsmouth and Coventry City …

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