by Sam Casey
A dramatic rise in the number of Leeds United fans arrested last season saw the club jump up a table of football troublemakers.
Police held 101 supporters for a range of offences, according to Home Office figures – roughly 63 per cent more than the 62 arrested in the 2011-12 season.
It meant Leeds had more fans arrested than any other club outside the Premier League last season – and saw them rise from 10th to third in an overall league table of arrests for the top four tiers of English football.
Only Newcastle United (175) and Manchester United (145) had more fans arrested.
Leeds United declined to comment on the report.
But Steve Clay, of the Leeds United Supporters Trust, said: “We are saddened to see the rise in arrests and we are working with West Yorkshire Police and forces up and down the country to try to reduce the figures.
“However, I do think we are often policed on reputation rather than reality.”
The offences that United fans were arrested for were public disorder (40), alcohol offences (34), violent disorder (9), pitch invasion (9), racist or indecent chanting (5), property offences (3) and ticket touting (1).
Mr Clay pointed out that the arrest figures equated to roughly two per game and said the fact that more Leeds fans travel to away games than all other Championship clubs means that their arrest statistics are always likely to be higher.
He added that police forces’ attitudes sometimes exacerbated problems. The supporters trust has complained to British Transport Police over the way fans were treated during the club’s trip to Millwall last season.
Mr Clay said: “Sometimes police just see the shirt – not who’s wearing it – and treat supporters in a way they would not treat the general public.
“We are not saying that Leeds United fans are beyond blame, but what we try to say to police forces is that our reputation precedes us and the manner in which we are sometimes policed causes issues.”
The Home Office figures also show that Leeds have more banned fans than all but three other clubs in the country. Seventy-two supporters are currently serving football banning orders.
Cardiff City (121), Chelsea (110) and Manchester United (91) are the only clubs with higher figures.
Leeds police commander Chief Superintendent Paul Money said: “We are on the side of the genuine supporters who want to take their families to enjoy the match without having their experience spoiled by a minority intent on causing trouble.
“We will continue to work closely in partnership with Leeds United to help ensure that games are safe and trouble free.”