Barnsley Football Club were charged with a breach of FA Rule E20 in January 2020. The charge relates to discriminatory chants aimed at James McClean, heard during the Sky Bet Championship clash between Barnsley FC and Stoke City at Oakwell on November 9, 2019.
Each November, supporters, players and staff of Barnsley FC pay their respects to individuals who gave their life whilst serving in the Armed Forces through a minutes silence and the wearing of a poppy. The poppy, worn by millions prior to Armistice Day, is a symbol of remembrance for those who died in war.
Having grown up on the Creggan estate, an area in Nothern Ireland that was home to six civilians who were killed on ‘Bloody Sunday’ in 1972, James McClean chooses not to wear the poppy. Because of this decision, McClean comes under public criticism and receives abuse from many.
In the 32nd minute of the Sky Bet Championship game at Oakwell on November 9, 2019, McClean reported sectarian chanting to match officials, with Barnsley FC since being found guilty of breaching FA Rule E20.
Upon accepting the charge, an independent Regulatory Commission ordered Barnsley FC to implement an action plan and fined the club £20,000. In addition to the fine, Barnsley FC were also to be made responsible for all costs incurred to implement the requirements of the action plan.
Barnsley FC prides itself on its standing within the local community and the work undertaken to ensure that Oakwell provides a family friendly environment for both supporters and players.
As such, actions of certain supporter groups contradict the Club’s values. Barnsley FC do not condone any form of discrimination or anti-social behaviour.
In line with the FA’s guidance, Barnsley FC are set to follow a specific action plan to ensure that all discrimination is dealt with in the correct manner.
Whilst continuing to work closely with Kick It Out, the management, education and deployment of matchday stewards will be reviewed and evaluated to ensure reaction time to incidents are appropriate.
A new text helpline has been established for supporters who experience or witness discrimination at Oakwell. Individuals are encouraged to text ‘HATE’ followed by relevant information to 60777.
Also, ahead of the Sky Bet Championship fixture against Blackburn Rovers on March 21, 2020, the Club, in partnership with Reds in the Community, will launch a campaign emphasising policies and zero tolerance towards discriminatory abuse.
Anybody found to be involved in any form of discriminatory behaviour when representing Barnsley Football Club face sanctions, including banning from attending matches.