Leeds United great Eddie Gray has sympathy with owner Massimo Cellino over the club’s stand-off with broadcaster Sky.
The Championship side “reluctantly” allowed Sky cameras into Elland Road to provide live coverage of last Tuesday’s match against Derby County.
Leeds initially denied Sky access, with Cellino claiming attendances were being negatively affected by fixtures being moved for television, although the club relented following negotiations with the Football League, who threatened sanctions.
Gray, a star of Leeds’ all-conquering teams of the late 1960s and 1970s, believes investors such as Cellino and broadcasters must find a way to co-exist without giving supporters short shrift.
The former Scotland winger, who was speaking on behalf of williamhill.com – official partner of the FA Cup, told Omnisport: “In general, without benefactors or television, clubs couldn’t survive but I think it’s got to be done sensibly.
“We [Leeds] have been on [television] a lot. I feel for the fans because they’ve changed so many fixtures – Brighton on a Monday night, down at Brighton, for example.
“Sometimes we’ve got to think that people are travelling a long way and it’s going to cost people money. The fans are still the lifeblood of the game. If you go to an empty stadium there’ll not be any television cameras there.
“I’ve got sympathy with [Cellino’s] stance. Leeds United for television in the Championship are probably the best draw – clubs like ourselves and Derby County, with their tradition, will bring the viewing figures up.
“You can understand it from [Sky’s] point of view as well because they’re paying big money for the product and they want what is going to bring them the biggest return on the box.
“I think it’s just got to be a little bit more sensible.”
Leeds host neighbours Rotherham United in the FA Cup on Saturday – reuniting Cellino’s latest managerial appointment, the similarly outspoken Steve Evans, with his former club.
Gray concedes Cellino may not be to everybody’s taste but expects the former Cagliari owner to continue being his own man.
“Like anybody else, I think Massimo is still learning the game in England,” he added. “The pros and cons of what to do and what not to do.
“He’s his own man, he’s put money into the club, he’s volatile but I think everybody just has to get used to that because that’s the nature of the man.
“That’s the one thing – he won’t change his nature.”
***William Hill is an official partner of the FA Cup. For the latest odds on all FA Cup action go to williamhill.com***
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