Leeds United chief executive Angus Kinnear pledges fans Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight will be remembered by club after ‘benchmark’ ceremony

Chief executive Angus Kinnear hopes Leeds United have set the benchmark for future commemorations of Kevin Speight and Christopher Loftus after criticisms they did not do enough to mark the anniversary on Saturday.

Yesterday was 22 years to the day the Leeds supporters were killed in Istanbul, where they had gone to watch their team play Galatasaray in a UEFA Cup semi-final first leg the following day.

Jesse Marsch and his squad attended a ceremony at 2pm, laying wreaths and scarves alongside the plaque commemorating the pair outside Elland Road.

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In a speech which managed to be humorous, moving and hard-hitting, supporter Gareth Senior expressed outrage more was not done to mark the anniversary when Leeds hosted Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday. In the 22nd minute fans turned their back on the pitch and applauded for a minute, but it was unprompted. The programme carried five paragraphs on the anniversary at the bottom of page 29.

Lest we forget: Leeds United fan Gareth Evans who was in Istanbul with Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight when they died, addresses the memorial gathering. Picture: James Hardisty

“We were hurt and upset there was nothing on the big TV or over the tannoy pre-match on Saturday,” said Senior.

“This shouldn’t happen again.”
Kinnear acknowledged the unhappiness and hopes yesterday’s efforts were appreciated.

“We know how important this is to the whole fanbase and how the tragic events were so deeply felt by everybody at the time and still 22 years later,” said Kinnear.

“We’ve made a commitment that during our custodianship we’ll always take time to remember both gentlemen at this time of year.

Solidarity: United players including Luke Ayling, right, Kalvin Phillips and Tyler Roberts, left and Leeds head coach Jesse Marsch, second right, were at the gathering. Picture: James Hardisty

“It was great that Jesse and the whole squad agreed to make it a team event and lay flowers and scarves.

“Kalvin (Phillips) came last year but this time was a step forward in getting the whole squad to take part. Many fans and friends and family of Chris and Kev came down as well.

“It was a fitting event and something we want to take forward as the benchmark of how it should be remembered.”

Senior also asked if the plaque could be moved somewhere more prominent and better protected from the weather. Kinnear says he will consult.

“We’ll work with the families,” he promised.

“It’s difficult to conceive of it being in a more high-profile place than right outside the Bremner statue, diagonally opposite the Revie statue but if the families aren’t happy about that, we’ll obviously consult them.”