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Leeds and Millwall players send warning to fans in bid to prevent trouble at match

Leeds and Millwall players send a warning to fans in a bid to prevent trouble at the upcoming match, which will be televised.

The rivalry between the two despite being over 170 miles (270 km) apart, is said to have really began in League One during the 2007–08 season, with disorder and violent clashes between both sets of fans and the police at Elland Road.

It continued into the 2008–09 season; with both the teams battling for promotion to the Championship, culminating in Millwall knocking Leeds out of the League One playoffs at the semi final stage.

As a result of fighting and disorder between supporters in 2007, kick off in future fixtures between the sides had been put an earlier time with matches heavily policed at The Den by the Metropolitan Police and at Elland Road by the West Yorkshire Police.

An ‘anti-hooligan operation’ was put into place by West Yorkshire Police in 2010 for Millwall fans to exchange vouchers for tickets at Woolley Edge service station, which limited the number of supporters attending away games at Elland Road.

In years since then, there have been reports of windows of buses being smashed, violent clashes, restricted crowds, goading from fans and players, ‘obscene’ chanting and fans being escorted to and from games.

Both clubs tweeted ahead of this Sunday’s meeting: “Our players can’t wait to play in an incredible atmosphere and entertain supporters.

“It’s important that the match is memorable for all the right reasons and we all contribute towards making the experience as positive and as safe as possible.”

In the clip, uploaded via the club’;s social media on Thursday, they say: “We can’t wait to welcome you at the Den this Sunday for what promises to be a passionate encounter.

“It’s the passion and love for your club that makes atmospheres like this so special.

“While we as players, staff and fans want to see and play in passionate atmospheres, we can’t allow this to boil over to the point where people’s match day experiences are affected in a negative way.

“Anti-discriminatory and tragedy chants as well as anti-social behaviour are not tolerated at The Den or anywhere else in football.

“Not only will you face severe consequences if found guilty of committing such crimes, your club will also suffer heavy financial consequences.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s one person or a group that’s been found guilty, your club will be punished.

“Both clubs have suffered tragic losses to their respective families in recent history.

“Chanting about either is entirely unacceptable and will not be tolerated by either club or the governing body.

“Don’t put yourself or your club at risk. Let’s make this matchday an enjoyable experience for all.

“Have a safe journey to The Den and we will see you soon.Love football. Protect the game.”

The Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement to the Mirror: “The CPS has updated its prosecution guidance on football related offences which reconfirms that tragedy-related abuse can be prosecuted as a public order offence.

“The guidance, which assists prosecutors when making legal decisions on cases, set out how lawyers can apply for Football Banning Orders which not only stop fans attending matches, but also can impose other restrictions, such as not being able to travel to certain areas, or be allowed in pubs at game time and travel during tournament times.

“Tragedy-related abuse is when fans sing, chant or gesture offensive messages about disasters or accidents involving players or fans. This can have a devastating impact on the bereaved and their communities.

“Sport is for everyone to enjoy, and this type of behaviour jeopardises that. The guidance also includes reference to other hate crimes, such as homophobic or racist chanting or gestures, and pitch incursion.”

CPS’ lead prosecutor for sport, Douglas Mackay, adds: “A small minority of so-called fans are both damaging the reputation of the sport and more importantly this offending has a devastating impact on the families of victims of tragedies and the communities connected closely to these events.

“This updated guidance sends the clear message that this vile behaviour will not be tolerated. We want supporters to passionately enjoy our national sport without crossing the line into criminality.”

The FA’s chief executive Mark Bullingham added: “Tragedy related abuse is completely unacceptable and has no place in our game.

“This behaviour is highly offensive and can have a lasting effect on the families, friends and communities who have been devastatingly impacted by these events. We welcome the new guidance from the CPS to tackle incidents of this nature.”

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