Leeds top the away fans' league but it's time for them to be rewarded

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A 15th-placed finish is scant reward for the average of 2,755 fans that Leeds take to away games, and many feel payback time is long overdue.

Football League figures have revealed that Leeds United have again topped the league in terms of their away support, with Middlesbrough in second place and Derby in third.

Tellingly, the other teams that make up the top three have spent the 2014-15 campaign challenging for promotion from the Sky Bet Championship, while Leeds have spent a fifth consecutive season treading water in mid-table.

Leeds took 6,839 fans to a 2-1 defeat at Blackburn's Ewood Park in November, and 5,200 witnessed the 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Sunderland. Leeds are notorious for the numbers and vibrancy their away following brings, particularly in the face of continuous under-achievement on the pitch and bewildering shenanigans off it. 

While every Leeds fan is very proud of the away following and how it has stood up despite years of mediocrity, and clearly wouldn't have it any other way, the adulation is wearing thin when this is continually the only thing the club can celebrate at the end of the season. Winning the away supporters' league doesn't bring any trophies, won't appear on any honours lists and only brings income to Leeds United's rivals.

Leeds' average home crowd for 2014-15 was 24,276 - the fourth highest in the division - also an encouraging statistic given the sub-standard campaign on the pitch, but it is the away following that observers are continually in praise of as fans make midweek trips to Brighton, Bournemouth, Norwich and Fulham with no complaint.

The away fans have stood by the club and the team, but vocal support behind the current regime has subsided, and audible chants against president and owner Massimo Cellino at recent games versus Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday suggest patience is finally wearing thin.

Ultimately, Leeds fans would be justified in feeling somewhat patronised at how their unstinting support is celebrated by the club and a succession of owners, but little is done to deliver the basic reward that a football fan wants; winning performances and progress on the pitch. The club is reliant on the one constant it has - its fans and particularly its away fans - but those fans are entitled to ask what their support is worth.

If those league table-leading figures were to subside next season, what would or could the club do about it? 

Leeds United has been praised by its fans for the recent marketing campaign for season ticket renewals, featuring some of the club's most famous names alongside the four academy graduates currently in the first team. It has long been argued, however, that the only marketing Leeds need to carry out is to produce a team capable of competing at the top of the Championship, and filling Elland Road and every away ground from Cardiff to Bolton will take care of itself.

With crucial decisions for the immediate and long term future of Leeds United taking place this week, that point has never been more relevant. 

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