The Football League has expressed “regret” at the late rescheduling of the Sky Bet Championship game between Leeds and Middlesbrough.
The League has blamed the delay in confirming the fixture switch on legal action taken by Leeds in their bid to prevent further games from being rearranged in order to accommodate live coverage by Sky Sports.
Supporters of Leeds and Middlesbrough reacted angrily to Tuesday’s confirmation that the game, which was initially scheduled for Elland Road on Saturday, February 13, would be moved to the following Monday for Sky Sports broadcast. The announcement of the new February 15 date gave fans under four weeks’ notice.
A Football League spokesman said: “It is a matter of regret to the Football League that supporters of Leeds United and Middlesbrough have only been informed of the new date for this match at such a late stage.
“Like other matches being broadcast during February, this game was originally selected for transmission by Sky Sports in early December with home clubs asked to make the necessary arrangements at the time.
“However, as was referenced by Leeds United in its statement of the 29th December, the club has challenged the League ‘through the appropriate legal routes’, which has prevented confirmation of the date of this fixture until now.
“Due to ongoing legal restrictions the League cannot comment further at this time.”
Leeds owner Massimo Cellino has been fighting a running battle with the Football League all season over the number of times his club have featured in games screened live by Sky.
The Italian claims Leeds lose out financially and that the disruption caused by fixture changes is unfair to the club’s staff and fans.
Cellino planned to ban Sky cameras from Elland Road for last month’s 2-2 draw with Derby but backed down at the last minute to avoid possible Football League charges of misconduct.
Leeds and Middlesbrough refused to comment when contacted by Press Association Sport.