Leeds United’s Elland Road, a stadium that stirs the passion even in lockdown

Even in lockdown, Elland Road is a proper football stadium. Keeping fans out of the grounds to protect against coronavirus has been necessary, but has made for hollow, sterile atmospheres.

Illustration: Graeme Bandeira.

Leeds United’s home is different.

The 15,000 cardboard cut-outs of fans, flags and banners give it a proper feel, but those in the director’s box create the new normal’s most partisan atmosphere.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The 123-year-old stadium is not the greatest place for spectators, looking a little shabby as venues around it develop.

THE BEAUTIFUL GAME: Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Upgrades will have to be made for the Premier League and there are long-term plans for a new West Stand to mirror the 14,900-seater East (extended in 1994), taking capacity to 50,000, if they establish themselves in the top flight.

What it is, though, is a great place for fans.

When Gareth Southgate wanted England to get a good send-off before heading to the last World Cup, he knew where to come.

It was Elland Road’s third England game, and it also hosted Euro 96.

Don Revie’s side in the 1960s and 70s was helped by building a certain mystique and mood, and a bearpit atmosphere at big home games, especially European nights.

Howard Wilkinson and David O’Leary’s sides profited too.

Chants of “Leeds, Leeds, Leeds” and “Marching on Together” have been the soundtrack to many a great victory.

The beauty of Marcelo Bielsa’s football means plenty a spectator will want to see how Leeds fare in next season’s top-flight but they will struggle to get in. As soon as the turnstiles open, it will be a campaign for the fans.

Illustration: Gareme Bandeira

Editor’s note: First and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.

Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing [email protected] Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets - our newsagents need you, too - can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting www.localsubsplus.co.uk where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available.

If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.

Sincerely. Thank you. James Mitchinson, Editor