FEBRUARY 29 may only come round every four years, but Leeds United’s trip to Brighton & Hove Albion next year will be far from a rare occurrence.
Yesterday’s shifting of the game at the Amex Stadium from the scheduled date of the previous Saturday to a Monday night by Sky Television takes the number of United fixtures selected for live transmission this season to 11.
For a team sitting in the lower half of the table, this is a remarkable tally and one that underlines the pulling power of Leeds whose fixtures attract Sky’s biggest audience in the Football League.
Not that this explanation is one that elicits much understanding from the 2,500 or so fans who will now have to head to Brighton on Leap Day, 2016, rather than the scheduled Saturday.
A spokesman for the Leeds United Supporters Trust (LUST) said: “The Trust is not surprised to find that, for the fifth successive season, Brighton away will be a night game.
“We are, however, somewhat disappointed that what constitutes our longest journey of the season has been subjected to fixture disruption, on top of the considerable fixture disruption Leeds fans have been subjected to this season.
“The scheduling takes no account of supporters’ needs.”
Last night’s trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers was the eighth time Leeds had been shown live this season.
Such a disproportionate amount of appearances has already upset the club, with president Massimo Cellino being hugely critical of both Sky and the Football League.
In October, the Italian – currently under threat of an ownership ban from the League – took the controversial step of restricting United’s ticket allocations at away grounds to 2,000. He cited the money being lost by Leeds in ticket sales when home games were shown live as part of his reasoning.
Cellino performed a U-turn following protests from Leeds supporters, but remains unhappy with the scheduling of fixtures by Sky.
Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday, meanwhile, will also meet live on the satellite channel towards the end of February. The encounter at the KC Stadium has been brought forward a day to Friday, February 26.