Date:Saturday April 29 2006
Leicester City's decision to play only unofficial friendly reserve level matches behind closed doors next season is an unforgiveable smack in the eye for genuine fans.
Attendances of Premier Reserve League matches at Hinckley United this season have regularly attracted upwards of 600 specators and sometimes over 1,000.
That is a fairly significant level of interest and it has prevailed for generations.
Many have attended because the games are invariably open and entertaining but also because they can see who is up and coming from the Academy ranks and who might be knocking on the first team door.
But in this time of ever-increasing viewing rights and exclusivity Leicester City seem to be forgetting the local fans they exist primarily to serve and seem to be wish to keep their players hidden from prying eyes.
Leicester, of course, were kicked out of the Premier Reserve League because they are no longer a Premiership side.
They were relatively happy because they wanted fewer fixtures and, although a League option was available, City have chosen to organise friendlies - and fewer of them.
There are costs and other advantages to this but the main effect will be to keep the players out of the puiblic gaze,
No longer will City fans be able to see who deserves to challenge for a first team place or which local lads are making an impression.
A great area of interest and fans debate will disappear and a great part of our football club's operation will become effectively secret.
According to Bill Anderson and Andy Mann in today's Leicester Mercury/Blue Army column, Leicester City secretary Andrew Neville says that: 'Officially, the reserve team will not really exist, we will just play friendlies.'
The column reveals that City will spend money up-grading their main pitch at the training ground and matches, unannounced beforehand, will be behind closed doors.
It is a disgrace. A self-centred, self-serving disgrace and a wilfull kick in the teeth for all the fans who have followed the reserves with great interest for many years.
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