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Leeds United defend open-top bus celebration after stay home plea


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Media captionLeeds United players celebrate on a bus outside Elland Road.

Leeds United have defended the decision to parade the Championship trophy from an open-top bus in front of fans after previously telling people to stay away.

Thousands gathered outside the club’s ground to celebrate its return to the top flight, with four people arrested for public order offences.

Officials had urged fans to celebrate at home.

However, following the 4-0 home win over Charlton, the team made a brief appearance outside the ground.

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Danny Lawson/PA Wire

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Hundreds of Leeds fans gathered at Elland Road to celebrate the club lifting the Championship trophy

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Danny Lawson/PA Wire

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The club’s chief executive had earlier urged them to stay home, saying they would “celebrate when the time was right”

Chief executive Angus Kinnear had urged fans to stay away from the game, saying when the time was right “we will celebrate in style”.

But in a later statement the club said: “Following consultation with the Safety Advisory Group and council, Leeds United arranged for a bus to be parked outside the East Stand reception as a contingency to assist dispersal should a crowd congregate at Elland Road, despite a month-long campaign from the club and supporter groups to encourage supporters to stay at home.

“The safety group believed that a brief appearance from the players with the Championship trophy would help to signal an end to proceedings, encouraging fans to head home safely.

“In challenging circumstances, fan safety has always been our priority.”

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Fans cheered the team from outside the ground as they beat Charlton 4-0

Supt Jackie Marsh from West Yorkshire Police said four people had been arrested for public order offences and one officer received a minor injury but did not require hospital treatment.

“While most of those who gathered did so with good intentions, there were some missiles thrown which resulted in officers having to wear protective equipment,” she said.

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Danny Lawson/PA Wire

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People of all ages came along to mark the occasion

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Danny Lawson/PA Wire

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Flares were set off as fans celebrated

The move attracted criticism on social media, particularly from those who had heeded the original advice to stay away issued by the club.

Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police also urged fans to stay away over concerns about coronavirus.

As it happened: Leeds United fans celebrate promotion to the Premier League.

It comes after supporters gathered outside the ground on Friday to celebrate the club’s return to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years.

On Sunday, about 7,000 fans packed the city’s Millennium Square.

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Thousands of fans left piles of rubbish after they celebrated promotion to the Premier League

A number of fans arrived at the ground on Thursday morning to help in the clean up operation after piles of litter were left behind.

One supporter, Chris, said: “It’s nice to just come down and do my bit really.”

“By the time we’d got here, the council had cleared most of it already. They’ve done a cracking job, full credit to them.”

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Chris and other fans helped to clean up litter at Elland Road

In contrast to the scenes outside the ground, the trophy was presented inside an almost empty stadium.

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Tim Goode/PA Wire

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Leeds celebrate the title win inside a near-empty Elland Road

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