By Alex Stevens
Massimo Cellino has backed down and allowed Sky to cover Leeds’ Championship clash with Derby on Tuesday night but has claimed it will be the “last time” the broadcaster are allowed in.
The Leeds owner had ordered his staff to bar Sky from entering Elland Road for 24 hours before finally relenting on Tuesday afternoon.
Cellino, who is at his Miami home, failed to respond when asked to comment and Leeds have issued a statement, claiming they have only allowed Sky in reluctantly.
However, Radio Yorkshire claim to have received a text message from Cellino, who says it will be the last time Sky are allowed in.
“The damage they done to the club and to the fans, I’m let (sic) them in now, just because we are different from them, but for the season it’s the last time,” the text reads.
This is a new twist after it appeared that Leeds had backed down in the face of a series of legal threats from the Football League, who warned the Championship club they would face disciplinary action if Sky were not given the all-clear.
Leeds’ public stance is that they are satisfied they have raised the issue of what they feel is the unfair number of their games screened by Sky on a national level and hope they can come to a long-term solution.
In a statement the club said: “Leeds United have noted that the majority of press reports on the matter have quite rightly appreciated that the club’s issues with the Football League relate in part to the entirely disproportionate number of times Sky have selected the club for live transmission.
“It is not just the number of times the club has been selected, but the fact the adjoining fixtures are also then disrupted which adversely affects the players, the club’s logistical arrangements and the fans’ arrangements.
“It is clear to the club that its key supporters, the season ticket holders, have also had enough of this constant alteration, often at short notice, to the fixture list to accommodate Sky.”
Tuesday night’s match will be Leeds’ ninth televised Championship match this season and no League side has been shown more times.
Leeds are also angry with the League for threatening to punish them over their stance when they feel it should be backing them.
“Given Sky are to show 92 live games this season, a fair allocation would be four home games per club – so the selection by Sky is clearly unfair and the league are allowing this,” said Leeds in their statement.
“The Football League regulations are supposed to be there to protect the integrity of the sporting competition, not to be used as a stick to beat the club on behalf of Sky.
“It is to be noted that the League threaten a disrepute charge against the club. It is the League who are bringing their own competition into disrepute by unfairly prejudicing Leeds (and certain other clubs) by allowing Sky to unfairly disrupt Leeds United for their own commercial purposes.”