A group of Leeds supporters stepped up its campaign to drive out owner Massimo Cellino by arranging a mock funeral at Elland Road before Saturday’s match against Bolton – to mark “the death of the club we fell in love with”.
The Time To Go Massimo group is opposed to Italian Cellino and also confirmed it planned to go ahead with plans to fly a plane above the stadium bearing its slogan before and during the Sky Bet Championship match.
The hired hearse was due to arrive at a poignant location, the group said in a statement.
It said: “At 1430 a hearse will travel down Wesley Street with a police escort, parking on Lowfields Road next to the Billy Bremner statue, before pall bearers remove a Leeds United branded coffin on the council-owned ground at the south western edge of the plinth to memorialise the death of the club we fell in love with.”
Time To Go Massimo spokesman Tom Banks will then deliver a eulogy, with white roses to be placed on the coffin by opponents to the Eleonora Sport group’s ownership.
A wake was also planned, the group said, to be held by fans boycotting the fixture at the Old Peacock, a pub opposite Elland Road.
Current Leeds boss Steve Evans is the sixth head coach in less than two years under Cellino.
The Italian owner, who is currently awaiting an appeal date after a second Football League disqualification for tax evasion, has found himself at the centre of protests from a large number of fans over recent months.
Angered by a perceived lack of investment in the team coupled with a long list of off-the-field dramas, the Time To Go Massimo group projected a number of anti-Cellino messages on to the side of Elland Road’s East Stand during last month’s draw with Middlesbrough.
The fans’ body said it had also hired a van to carry its slogan and drive through Leeds city centre from midday, before moving to the roads by the stadium from 2pm, ahead of the 3pm kick-off.
A troubled season on the pitch saw a new low on Monday with a 4-0 defeat at Brighton. Cellino is reported to have left Brighton’s AMEX Stadium at half-time, by which time Leeds were already four goals down.
His relationship with the club’s fans suffered a further blow when his son, Edoardo, was forced to issue an apology after he and brother Ercole, both registered as directors of the club, abused supporters with expletive-laden insults on social media.
Ercole called one woman a ”whale” and told her to stop eating in an exchange on Instagram and she has been reported to have lodged an official complaint to the club.
In a separate incident on Facebook, of which the Daily Mail has photographs of the conversation, Edoardo called another fan a ”moron” during a heated exchange and also used another derogatory term. Edoardo apologised in a statement.
The Football Association is understood to be aware of the messages and making enquiries surrounding their context.