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Watford v Luton: Graham Taylor statue boarded up

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image copyrightDave Dutton
image captionThe statue of Graham Taylor was boarded up ahead of Saturday's closed match

Fans have branded the decision to put protective boards around a statue of former Watford manager Graham Taylor "the overreaction of the century".

Watford face local rivals Luton Town for the first time in 14 years on Saturday but no fans will be at game.

Despite this, the tribute to the late footballing legend, who went on to manage England, near the Vicarage Road ground has been hidden from view.

Watford declined to comment on the reason for its concealment.

As reported in the Harrow Times, the club said on Wednesday it was "fully co-operating with all relevant authorities" to make sure the game passed "safely and securely".

Some Luton Town FC supporters voiced criticisms after photos of the boarded-up statue and barriers outside the ground were posted on fan websites.

One described it as "the overreaction of the century", while another called the move "pathetic, and seriously embarrassing".

"I can only assume that they don't want Graham Taylor to see the result this weekend," said another.

image captionGraham Taylor's widow Rita (left) and daughter Karen (right) attended the official unveiling in 2018

Hertfordshire Police said extra officers were being brought in for the match. It is due to kick-off at 12:30 BST, having been brought forward from 15:00 on police advice.

Ch Supt Matt Nicholls advised fans of both teams to "stay at home".

The Championship match will not be shown on TV or in pubs, but will be on internet streams.

Graham Taylor at Watford

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionGraham Taylor managed teams including Watford, Aston Villa and Wolves
  • In his first spell as Hornets boss, 1977-1987, Taylor took the club from the old Fourth Division to the top flight and they finished second to Liverpool in 1983
  • He also got them to the 1984 FA Cup final, where they lost to Everton
  • He then went on to manage Aston Villa before becoming England manager in 1990, and his tenure ended in 1993 after failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the USA
  • His second spell as Watford manager, 1996-2001, saw him take the club from the third flight to the Premier League, where they were relegated after one season
  • Also managed Wolves (1994-95), and had a second spell at Villa (2002-03)
  • He died at the age of 72 in January 2017, and the bronze statue, created by award-winning sculptor Douglas Jennings was unveiled by Taylor's wife and daughter the following year
  • Read Phil McNulty's BBC Sport obituary

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