Sheepshanks: Leeds would be welcome back

BLUES chairman David Sheepshanks today insisted a line has been drawn under events surrounding Leeds United and they will be welcomed back into the Championship should they win promotion through the play-offs.

Derek Davis

BLUES chairman David Sheepshanks today insisted a line has been drawn under events surrounding Leeds United and they will be welcomed back into the Championship should they win promotion through the play-offs.

Gary McAllister's side take on Carlisle today in the first leg of the League One play-off semi-final after finishing sixth, despite a 15-point deduction due to financial irregularities.

Leeds failed in their appeal against that decision and were also ordered to pay costs of around £500,000 following the hearing by an independent arbitration panel but the timing meant Swansea and Doncaster had to wait to see if they would be promoted automatically.

Sheepshanks said: “The whole thing is regrettable, especially the way it was drawn out over the period of time that it was.

“The arbitration ruling vindicates the Football League's decision.

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“The matter is now closed and Leeds United are now trying to win promotion legitimately via the play-offs and good luck to them.”

Sheepshanks is aware that Town fans will have their own thoughts about United's fortunes but for different reasons.

He said: “At Ipswich Town we have other thoughts about Leeds United and our last visit to Elland Road.

“The wounds of that visit will take longer to heal and I still feel a great deal of sympathy for our fans who suffered abuse and violence.”

Leeds were not docked points or fined over the pitch invasion in their last home game of the season when Ipswich Town fans were attacked, despite Sheepshanks urging action.

It was decided that a s the police had made a large number of arrests and more than 30 Leeds fans were convicted no further action was needed by the footballing authorities, something that rankled with Sheepshanks although he is now prepared to be more forgiving.

Sheepshanks said: “As you will remember I took it to the highest levels of the Football League and The FA boards. The police took severe actions against the perpetrators and a number were prosecuted and some are now behind bars.

“Just as we hope everyone in football will draw a line under the points reduction for the financial irregularities we at Ipswich Town must draw a line under the pitch invasion.

“If Leeds are promoted then it will be deserved. It should be remembered that the vast majority of Leeds United supporters are decent people and expressed their regret at and made apologies for the actions of an ugly minority.

“It is my belief that one day Leeds will be back in the Championship, and very probably the Premiership where I hope we will also be to play them.

“If they are promoted then they will be welcomed back into the Championship and to Portman Road.”