Leeds fans plan to stage a mass walk-out at Elland Road during Saturday’s home game against Hull in protest at owner Massimo Cellino.
The Italian businessman, who recently reneged on a deal to sell his majority stake in the club to supporters’ group Leeds Fans United, has infuriated supporters further still by increasing ticket prices in the South Stand at Elland Road without prior warning.
Supporters in the stand have been forced to pay for food and drink whether they want it or not due to a £5 increase on their matchday ticket, which can be redeemed at the catering kiosks.
Members of fans’ group South Stand SS5 have organised a walk-out from the stadium in the 17th minute for a 17-minute period in protest at the price hike, dubbed the ‘pie-tax’ by fans, and at Cellino’s “outrageous” running of the club. Cellino has previously stated his superstitious dislike of the number 17.
“We all know he hates the number 17,” John Bond, who is organising the protest, told Press Association Sport.
“We want to make it very clear to Cellino that he is not wanted. The way he runs the club is outrageous and we want our club back.”
Bond said that he and the Leeds United Supporters’ Trust had emailed the club on November 18 to discuss the price increase but the club have not replied.
“We’ve also contacted the Football League and Trading Standards because we don’t think the club are within their rights to do this,” he said.
“There’s a big appetite among fans to protest in this way. It will be peaceful. It’s got good traction on social media.
“Maybe the whole ground won’t walk out on Saturday, but maybe more will next time. We’re confident we’re speaking for the majority of fans.”
A spokesperson for the club said: “The club is looking at ways to encourage supporters to use the facilities and catering offerings on match-days. Adult South Stand tickets are now being sold as a package, which includes the advertised standard match ticket plus meal deal voucher.
“The voucher offers a saving on the standard match-day food and drink prices, and to accommodate demand, additional catering units have been identified in the lower concourse and will be designated for serving the voucher-only meal deals.
“This new package only applies to the South Stand, and supporters have the choice to buy tickets elsewhere in the stadium at standard ticket prices.”
A mock eBay auction has been set up offering Cellino himself for sale, criticising the Italian’s conduct during his time at Leeds.