Clarets Mad comments on the latest life bans

Last updated : 15 May 2002 By Tony Scholes

It is something the club has done for some time, although not quite so publicly, and as such Clarets Mad didn't feel the need to comment. The latest batch takes those with life bans to over 150 the club tells us and without knowing the ins and outs of each case it would not be possible for us to make judgements on them on an individual basis.

Having said that Clarets Mad fully supports the club's policy and the attempts to make Turf Moor a better and safer place to visit. That was all we had to say on the matter and was why we didn't see any need to comment at all.

Today though comments have been made on the decision by Burnley's BNP co-ordinator Steven Smith and this web site feels the need to comment. He described the decision to ban two fans for racist chanting as outrageous and went on to add that they were a gag on the freedom of people's speech.

Smith said, "Chanting songs and slogans, whether they be racist or not, is a natural part of football culture and in itself it is harmless. If people do chant racist songs then there is a reason for that and that needs to be looked at rather than punishing people with lifelong bans.

"People causing other offences such as running on the pitch and spoiling the game should perhaps be punished a little more severely because they are disrupting the game, but singing songs means nothing and some racist language has become part of our every day vocabulary. It will all backfire in due course.

"To ban people from the ground for life is like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut. The bans should be overturned and the fans should be given a warning at the least if the club feel they have done something wrong.

"People's freedom of speech is slowly being taken away from them and these bans just go to show that. You can't even wave a Union Jack at a football match now because it is seen as racist."

Firstly Mr. Smith is clearly not aware of Burnley Football Club's policy regarding football related offences, a policy that has been in existence at Turf Moor for a number of years, to ban anyone convicted of any such offence. There are no warnings for any of the other offences and neither should there be for this.

He says that racist chanting is a natural part of football culture, is harmless and it is part of our every day vocabulary. It may well be a part of Mr. Smith's every day vocabulary but is certainly not part of mine or that of the vast majority of Burnley supporters. It is a criminal offence and is something that the game should be rid of.

And what about his suggestion that Union Jack flags cannot be waved any longer because they are racist. They have been carried and displayed at matches by Burnley fans for many, many years and they will continue to do so in the future. To do so is not in anyway racist or perceived as being racist by anyone. The only people that seem to suggest that it is are members of Mr Smith's party who are presumably trying to make some sort of political capital out of the suggestion.

Well done to Burnley Football Club for taking this action and just a reminder that under the policies of Mr. Smith's party some of our players would be encouraged to leave the country and no longer play for the Clarets.