Bates blast Leeds 'idiot'

  • Last Updated: October 22 2012, 13:52 BST

Leeds chairman Ken Bates believes the fan who attacked Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland in the ill-tempered Yorkshire derby at Hillsborough on Friday night has caused severe damage to his club's efforts to improve their image.

Kirkland was shoved to the floor on Friday night

A 21-year-old man was arrested in Cheltenham on Sunday on suspicion of assault in connection with the incident that saw Kirkland shoved to the ground moments after conceding a 76th-minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw.

Quickly the thug was identified on social media sites with hundreds of fans joining in the condemnation. A mobile phone number was even posted, supposedly belonging to the suspect.

Leeds also reacted swiftly to the incident by releasing an official statement before the full-time whistle denouncing the actions of the supporter.

But while Bates has been pleased with the reactions of most Leeds fans, he is upset the club have been tarnished by the actions of one person.

"What is encouraging is that I am told the vast majority of Leeds fans were as appalled by what happened as everyone else," Bates told the Yorkshire Post.

"The idiot who ran on the pitch better not go anywhere near Elland Road again. There are a lot of people angered by what he did.

"We have been working hard as a club to improve our image over the past few years. But this guy has done so much damage to that. It isn't fair on the overwhelming majority of Leeds fans.

"It doesn't do any of us any good, especially at a time when we are working so hard to get this club where it deserves to be."

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Ms Anderton asked the district judge to accept that her client pushed Kirkland rather than slapped him.

She said Cawley had shown a "great deal of regret and remorse".

"It's certainly not something he would ordinarily do," she said.

The solicitor said that, as well as drinking a huge amount of alcohol, her client had also not eaten before the match.

She said: "He was absolutely disgusted by his own behaviour."

Ms Anderton said Cawley had lived in the Cheltenham area all his life and had inherited a love of Leeds United from his father.

She said her client hoped his apology has reached Kirkland and the two football clubs involved.

District Judge Redhouse said she had no choice but to impose an immediate custodial sentence.

She said a huge effort had been made to tackle hooliganism in football and "make football an event where there's no violence and where families are happy to attend with children".

She said footballers were at matches as part of their employment and everyone has the right to be "protected from being assaulted by a stranger" at work.

The district judge also noted that, while she had heard all the evidence about how much Cawley had to drink, she did not see any evidence of his drunkenness on the TV footage she had been shown.

Friday's match was marred by a hostile atmosphere between the two sets of fans, culminating in the incident involving Cawley and Kirkland.

Wednesday manager Dave Jones - himself the subject of vile chants - urged Leeds fans after the game to clean up their act.

Jones, who was cleared of child abuse allegations in 2000, was disgusted by some of the chants directed his way, adding: "I heard a guy on the radio say I get well paid and it's football banter.

"That's not football banter, I've had that for 12 years off them (football fans)."

The Football Association has said it will investigate events.

There were five arrests for various offences including public order before and after the game, while three people were ejected from the ground and 12 were subject to dispersal orders.