Sheepshanks praises Town fans

IPSWICH Town chairman David Sheepshanks has criticised Leeds supporters who attacked Blues fans after Saturday's match - while revealing others have contacted the club to express their regret.

IPSWICH Town chairman David Sheepshanks has criticised Leeds supporters who attacked Blues fans after Saturday's match - while revealing others have contacted the club to express their regret.

He also praised the conduct of the travelling Portman Road faithful who he said were “a credit to themselves” in the face of extreme provocation.

The trouble flared following Alan Lee's late equaliser for Town - an act that has all but condemned Leeds to relegation from the Championship.

Shortly after, thinking the match was over, sections of the Elland Road crowd poured on to the pitch and pelted away fans with bottles, coins, lighters and watch straps.


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Last night Mr Sheepshanks said: “We utterly deplore what happened, as, it must be said, do the majority of Leeds United supporters, some of whom have even contacted us to express their regret.

“It was a stark reminder of a past era of football violence that I thought we had managed to leave behind in this country. It will now be a matter for the football authorities to investigate and take whatever action they see fit.

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“However what concerns us most is the safety of our players and fans. All of us at Ipswich Town would like to pay tribute to the conduct of our supporters under extreme provocation.

“Once again they were a credit to themselves and the club. Our thoughts and best wishes are with those who were hurt as a result of what happened.

“I would also like to commend our players for their recognition of both what our own fans endured and their display of empathy for the sad plight of the real Leeds United fans who remained at the end of the game.”

The match, which ended 1-1, was held up for half an hour while calm was restored so the last 45 seconds of the game could be played.

But the violence continued outside of the ground and police in riot gear had to disperse angry mobs.

John Taylor, 64, who was staying in Leeds overnight, said: “When my wife and I got back to the hotel there were a load of lads outside a nearby pub taunting about 40 or 50 riot police.

“It was frightening. Some fans were trying to find out where people were from and I imagine they were hoping to find some of us from Ipswich. Fortunately I wasn't wearing the team colours.”

On Sunday night police said they had arrested 11 people in and outside the ground for public disorder offences following the game.

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police confirmed yesterday there had been violence in the city centre involving between 70 and 100 people.

“Officers from West Yorkshire Police's operations support unit dispersed the group from three separate public houses, one of which was closed at the request of the licensee,” he said. “The group were hostile towards the officers, including the throwing of missiles. A number of arrests were made and sporadic disorder continued until approx 9pm that evening.”

The Football Association has already confirmed that, together with the police, it will be investigating the violence after Saturday's game and warned that Leeds United and their supporters could face disciplinary actions.

A spokesman for Leeds United Football Club was unavailable for comment last night.

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