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Now Ridsdale and Mills get involved in the Alioski row
Thursday, 25th Mar 2021 11:12 by Tim Whelan

As the controversy still rages over whether we should forgive Gjanni Alioski for signing a pre-contract deal with the hated Galatasaray, Peter Ridsdale and Danny Mills have now had their say. Both think we should bear in mind that Alioski was very young at the time and so won’t be aware of the context.

Alioski said earlier in the season that he would like to remain at Elland Road when his contract runs out at the end of the season, but talks with the club over another deal came to nothing. So he has been able to agree a pre-contract with an overseas club since 1 January. Turkish outlet Fotomac have claimed that Alioski has made such an agreement with Galatasaray, and this has also been reported by Phil Hay.

This inevitably led to a furious reaction among some sections of the Leeds support, with a number of abusive posts on social media, and a mural by the ‘Burley Banksy’ artist Andy McVeigh being vandalised. McVeigh has now painted over the mural and the offensive graffiti, saying that to do so was best for all concerned.

Now our beloved ex-chairman Peter Ridsdale has spoken about the controversy, when he appeared on yesterday’s ‘White & Jordan Show ‘on talkSPORT. “I can never forget the night before the game or indeed the night of the game because obviously two of our supporters were murdered that evening. I’ll never forget, their families will never forget and I don’t think any long-standing Leeds fans will ever forget.”

“It’s one of the most horrific occasions I’ve ever encountered in football. The night of the game itself was equally bad in the sense that the police allowed severe intimidation beyond what is acceptable in any sporting environment.” And when asked about the abuse of Alioski, he said “I can understand it but I do think what it has to be tempered with is… those of us who lived through it understand how disturbing it was and I’ll live with it for the rest of my life.”

“But the young lad Alioski clearly wasn’t party to it, probably doesn’t understand the emotion and the context, and perhaps it’s difficult for him to understand the outpouring of anger from Leeds fans. I see it from both sides. I totally understand the Leeds fans’ reactions but I hope they will stand back and understand the young player today doesn’t have genuine context and will find it hard to put into context.”

And Danny Mills expressed a similar view when he also appeared on TalkSPORT. “I don’t think Harry is welcome in Leeds in any way shape or form [after Kewell joined the Istanbul club in 2008 after his spell at Liverpool], their feelings are that strong. Alioski is a fantastic character, Leeds fans love him.”

“He might not have even known of the situation, but possibly not in the grand scheme of things and what it meant to Leeds, the club, the city. Leeds fans are split. Some will go, okay, time has moved on and he didn’t really know about it. I still think that there will be half of them that won’t be happy. If there were fans in the ground, there would be a lot of boos because of the Galatasaray link.”

My opinion is similar to Ridsdale and Mills. I think we should forgive Alioski if he thinks that going to Galatasaray is the best option for him at this stage of his career. He was only 8 years old in the year 2000, so he might not appreciate the depth of feeling that still exists in our city. Unlike Harry Kewell, who knew perfectly well what he was doing, having been a member of the Leeds side at the time of the murders of Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight.

I’d rather Alioski signed for almost any other club but them, but I’ll still thank him for the part he has played in getting our great club back to where we are today, and wish him well for his future career.

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