Leeds United have defended the decision to parade the Championship trophy from an open-top bus in front of fans after previously telling people to stay away.
Thousands were at the club’s ground on Wednesday night to celebrate its return to the top flight. Four people were arrested for public order offences.
Officials had urged fans to stay away but the team made a brief appearance after the 4-0 win over Charlton.
One fan group described the move as “a dreadful own goal” by the club.
Chief executive Angus Kinnear had urged fans to stay away from the game, saying when the time was right “we will celebrate in style”.
But in a later statement the club said: “Following consultation with the Safety Advisory Group and council, Leeds United arranged for a bus to be parked outside the East Stand reception as a contingency to assist dispersal should a crowd congregate at Elland Road, despite a month-long campaign from the club and supporter groups to encourage supporters to stay at home.
“The safety group believed that a brief appearance from the players with the Championship trophy would help to signal an end to proceedings, encouraging fans to head home safely.
“In challenging circumstances, fan safety has always been our priority.”
Supt Jackie Marsh from West Yorkshire Police said four people had been arrested for public order offences and one officer received a minor injury but did not require hospital treatment.
“While most of those who gathered did so with good intentions, there were some missiles thrown which resulted in officers having to wear protective equipment,” she said.
The Leeds United Supporters’ Trust called on the club to apologise to those fans who heeded its original advice to stay at home.
The trust said: “We have received many messages from members outlining their anger, frustration and disappointment at being asked to stay at home and then missing out on the events that unfolded at the ground.
“We completely understand that frustration. We also empathise with those that made a personal decision to attend the ground last night to feel part of a shared moment.
“We do, however, feel that the use of such a potent symbol of celebration, the open-top bus, was a dreadful own goal by the club”.
The trust said the presence of the open-top bus begged the question of whether the club’s intention was to secure “powerful video footage” rather than anything safety-related in respect of the fans.
Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police had also urged fans to stay away over concerns about coronavirus.
That came after supporters gathered outside the ground on Friday to celebrate the club’s return to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years.
On Sunday, about 7,000 fans packed the city’s Millennium Square.
A number of fans arrived at the ground on Thursday morning to help in the clean up operation after piles of litter were left behind.
One supporter, Chris, said: “It’s nice to just come down and do my bit really.”
“By the time we’d got here, the council had cleared most of it already. They’ve done a cracking job, full credit to them.”
In contrast to the scenes outside the ground, the trophy was presented inside an almost empty stadium.