Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino comments on controversial pie-tax comments

Massimo Cellino 2

The Italian says he did not put up the price of tickets in the South Stand to spite fans.

When Leeds United defeated Hull City at Elland Road at the start of December it was game well remembered for some fantastic and passionate celebrations from Leeds fans and striker Chris Wood in particular.

It might not be as fondly remembered for a protest that occurred in the 17th minute against the so called South Stand 'pie-tax' implemented by controversial owner Massimo Cellino.

Leeds added £5 to the cost of South Stand tickets which was mandatory and offered a voucher for refreshments in exchange.

It did not go down well with some fans. This week, in an interview with L'Unione Sarda, he stated that he had added the tax after being heckled by Leeds fans after a 2-0 home defeat v Blackburn with the Yorkshire Evening Post translating him as saying “to criticise me you need to pay extra” and “I put five pounds more for each ticket.”

He has now explained these comments to the YEP, saying they were simply a joke:

“It was just a joke. I never could do anything like that.

“In the bar business we try to make (the fans) buy the beer from our bars and not from everybody who sells them in front of the stadium. It is to help the club.”

The conveyance of the interview, in his native tongue and in a comfortable restaurant setting, does seem quite relaxed and, to give Cellino the benefit of the doubt on this one, he might have been joking.

When the explanation is made it does make a degree of business sense considering the fact he wants Leeds fans paying for Leeds products when they come to games - even if the hike rightfully irked many a fan.

The 'pie-gate' incident has seemingly blown over in recent weeks as Leeds fans look to get behind the team for the rest of the season.

But his latest transgressions in the Italian media are likely to alienate him even more from the Leeds faithful.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch