Football: Leeds compensate fans for wasted trip

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The Independent Online
LEEDS UNITED fans who made the fruitless trip to Russia in midweek, only for their team's game at Spartak Moscow to be postponed, are to be compensated by the club.

Fans could receive up to pounds 150 compensation following the postponement of the Uefa Cup third-round first-leg game, which has been rescheduled for Sofia on Thursday.

The Leeds chairman, Peter Ridsdale, said yesterday: "As a goodwill gesture to those fans who travelled all the way over to Moscow only to have the game postponed, they will receive pounds 100 compensation, providing they were on the official tour with Leeds United Travel. Any of those fans who are now going to watch us play in Sofia will receive a further pounds 50 compensation off the price of the package."

The postponement has had a domino effect on Leeds' games, and Leicester City are to demand compensation from Uefa for the loss of television revenue caused by the postponement of the Worthington Cup fourth-round tie with Leeds. The Foxes were scheduled to receive pounds 125,000 from Sky Sports for coverage of Tuesday's game, but the rescheduling of Spartak Moscow v Leeds means the Worthington tie has been put back to 15 December.

Leicester had wanted the game to go ahead on 14 December, when it would have been shown live on Sky and entitled them to a financial windfall, but Leeds requested an extra 24 hours as their FA Cup tie with Port Vale takes place on Sunday 12 December - which will mean no live coverage.

Leeds' demands have not impressed the Leicester manager, Martin O'Neill, given the fact that his side were forced to play an FA Cup tie and a League Cup semi-final in the space of 48 hours two seasons ago. O'Neill said: "We can't do anything about the game being off because the Uefa game takes precedent, although it was disappointing that no one let us know. We found out from Teletext. We can get over that and we are prepared to play Leeds at any time and any place - as long as we are compensated for the television money.

"We asked to play on December 14 because then the game would definitely have been on TV. Leeds asked to play on the 15th, when the game won't be on the box, so we will be asking for compensation.

"We should get the money. It's through no fault of ours that we have had to postpone the fixture next week at such short notice. We've had to cancel all sorts of arrangements for that match. We've been brow-beaten at this football club enough over the last few months and its about time we stood up for ourselves.

"It's amazing when you think that two years ago we were asked to play Chelsea in an FA Cup tie on the Sunday and then Wimbledon two days later in the League Cup semi-final. We did that, but it seems that Leeds can't do the same now."

Elsewhere, the Benfica coach, Jupp Heynckes, received the traditional chairman's vote of confidence following his side's 7-0 thrashing by the Spanish side Celta Vigo in their Uefa Cup tie on Thursday. The players, however, did not.

"The coach is not in doubt," Joao Vale e Azevedo said on his return from Vigo, where he watched his side slump to their worst defeat in European competition. However, he added: "Players cannot mess around when they play for Benfica. There are some people responsible for this disaster and we are going to have to talk. It is unacceptable that a club with the prestige of Benfica is humiliated in this way."

Borussia Dortmund are in turmoil after the 2-0 Uefa Cup first-leg defeat by Rangers on Thursday. Members of the Bundesliga club meet next week to decide whether to agree to a flotation and the club's technical director, Michael Zorc, said: "This defeat couldn't have come at a worse time for us."

Zorc, who was part of the Dortmund squad who lifted the European Cup two years ago, was unimpressed by Rangers. "What they showed is not enough for them to be a force to be reckoned with in Europe," he said.