A POPULAR football pub has been renamed in honour of a long-serving player who left the club this month.

The Old Peacock, which is run by Ossett Brewery and sits just opposite the south stand of Elland Road, is frequented by Leeds United supporters before games and has now taken on the name “The Luke Ale Inn”.

The move was announced on X, formerly Twitter, by the pub yesterday evening and is in honour of fan favourite Luke Ayling and the player himself has even responded to the news today.

He said in a story on Instagram alongside a picture of the newly named pub: "What an honour. Can't wait to get in and have a pint once the season is over.

"Obviously I am really focused on making sure I do everything I can to push on at Middlesbrough but one day I'll be back to say goodbye and the drinks are on me."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Luke Ayling against Millwall at The Den on Sunday, September 17, 2023Luke Ayling against Millwall at The Den on Sunday, September 17, 2023 (Image: George Tewkesbury/PA)

Ayling spent seven-and-a-half happy years at Leeds United, after joining the Whites from Bristol City for £500,000 in the summer transfer window of 2016, and has since settled down in North Yorkshire, marrying his wife Poppy and welcoming two children in that time.

The marauding right-back – who is affectionately known as “Bill” - made 268 appearances for the club, scoring 11 goals and making 21 assists, as well as securing promotion to the Premier League after winning the Championship with United at the end of the 2019/20 season.

But Ayling’s gametime was heavily reduced under new Leeds United boss Daniel Farke this campaign and he made the move to fellow Sky Bet Championship side Middlesbrough on January 10.

The Old Peacock’s post on X said: “Following the departure of Leeds United Defender, Luke Ayling, The Old Peacock will now be renamed ‘The Luke Ale Inn’ for the remainder of the football season.

“The name change is in honour of Ayling's seven-and-a-half years at the club.”

The pub marked the time of cult hero and successful manager, Marcelo Bielsa, at Leeds United in a similar fashion back in March 2022, after the Argentine departed the club.

The latest renaming comes ahead of the Whites hosting Norwich this evening for an all-important Championship match, as the home side continues to try close the gap on Ipswich, Southampton and Leicester ahead of them.

Leeds United will hope to make it four wins in the league on the bounce tonight at Elland Road – which has become somewhat of a fortress for Farke’s side this season, where they remain unbeaten.

There are rumours that Ayling will be attending tonight’s game for a “farewell”.

The club originally said it had invited the defender back to Elland Road for the Preston North End match on Sunday to give him a “true Leeds United send off”.

Ayling has turned out twice already for Middlesbrough – both league matches - in a 3-1 victory against Millwall at The Den and a home tie against Rotherham where the points were shared after a 1-1 draw.

The Old Peacock will remain as "The Luke Ale Inn" until the last United game of the season, when the Whites take on Southampton at home, on Saturday, May 4.

The pub has a long association with Leeds United, dating back more than 100 years, and its title bears close similarities to one of the club’s nicknames – The Peacocks.

For many years fans could sit on the roof to watch games when tickets were sold out.