Following our previous release, the Club can now issue this further statement regarding the two alleged incidents that have taken place over the last few days.
Firstly, on Saturday, 29th January an allegation was made by a Stockport County player of a racist comment having been directed at him by a member of our staff during the first half of the match. The game was immediately stopped by the Referee and after speaking to the Stockport player, Linesman and Club Safety Officer, the game was reconvened and an announcement against racial abuse was played over the PA system.
The Club Safety Officer, who by statutory law has full and ultimate authority for match day operations, immediately opened an investigation with the police into the incident and the following conclusions were reached and reported to the Club:
- Police spoke with the staff member who confirmed that he had shouted at the Linesman, not the player, and did not use any racist term.
- Police spoke to witnesses (two of whom were independent stewards) identified as being in close proximity to the incident, and all stated that no racially inflammatory language had been used. When asked the direct question, “Did you hear the member of staff shout a racist term at the Stockport player?” all witnesses stated “no.”
- Police acknowledged that the staff member has a heavy accent which could have been misheard and were satisfied that a racist term had not been used.
- A member of Stockport County staff was asked after the game whether the Stockport player would like to come forward or make any comment. This was refused but we understand he has subsequently made a report to Kick It Out.
- In line with MPS policy, the matter was reported in a debrief to the London Matchday Silver Commander in a debrief to MO6 HQ Football Unit and it formed part of the Pan London Debrief for Saturday, 29th January 2022.
- The Senior Police Officer at the scene confirmed there was no allegation or substance for a criminal investigation to take place.
- The Referee’s extraordinary incident report to The FA expressly stated that neither of the Officials heard the alleged comment.
- When asked, no Barnet FC staff or players reported hearing any racist comment themselves.
Whilst the Club does not question the Stockport player’s belief that a racial comment was heard, it must look at the full facts and evidence as to whether the comment was actually made. In response to the events, the Club had already opened a further investigation into the incident and is in dialogue with the PFA and Kick It Out. The Club’s observations are also being provided to The FA as part of its regulatory reporting and The FA will ultimately make judgement on this matter.
Contrary to media reports, the Club is not aware of any player being threatened with termination at any point in time. Furthermore, a meeting with the playing squad has been arranged for this week to include the Club Safety Officer, PFA and (hopefully) Kick It Out in order to explain in full the procedures we have adopted and afford them the opportunity to ask any questions they may have on the matter.
The second incident under investigation is in regard to the alleged verbal assault of the same member of staff by a Barnet FC player on the morning of Monday, 31st January. Having been relieved of his Club duties before Christmas due to a severe heart condition, the staff member, who is still a part of the site team, went to the equipment room to collect some items for a film shoot being held that day. This is when the alleged incident took place, and a very serious complaint was made against the player which must also be thoroughly investigated.
The Club had no choice other than to suspend (on full pay) both parties in order to allow for these allegations to be thoroughly and efficiently investigated without any undue influence. Both allegations remain under investigation.
Chairman Tony Kleanthous said:
“There is no room for racism in modern day society. Barnet FC is one of the most multi-cultural football clubs on the planet and our values extend to opposing all forms of discrimination. Where there is any allegation, we will ensure that all protocols are followed in line with our Club procedures to ensure the most comprehensive outcome. It is important to stress that every individual is entitled to a fair and proper process and hearing, and the Club is committed to following best practice in relation to all complaints and grievances that are made. We would also like to emphasise that suspension is not an indication of guilt.
“As Chairman, I am deeply saddened that any of this has happened and can assure you that the Club will continue to take swift and appropriate action in co-operation with the relevant bodies.”