Barnet chief highlights ‘multi-culturalism’ as racism probe uncovers no evidence

Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United – FA Women’s Super League – The Hive Stadium
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

Barnet chairman Tony Kleanthous has insisted the club is “one of the most multi-cultural on the planet” after stating an investigation into an alleged incident of racism uncovered no evidence.

A member of the Bees’ staff allegedly made a racist comment during Saturday’s National League game against Stockport at The Hive.

Stockport issued a statement on Tuesday saying the club were aware of an alleged incident of racist abuse towards defender Ryan Johnson in the first half of that match which “occurred in the home stands” and were continuing to support the player.

Barnet responded in a statement later that evening to confirm an investigation had been carried out in full on Saturday, which included the police who were at the stadium being consulted and witness statements taken.

However, it was ultimately concluded there was “no allegation or substance for a criminal investigation to take place”, and the club would now collate information for the Football Association to review.

A further statement issued by Barnet on Wednesday has stated that “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.”

Kidderminster Harriers v Aston Villa – Pre-Season Friendly – Aggborough Stadium

Ryan Johnson, pictured in his Kidderminster days (PA)

Barnet also stated that “independent witnesses identified as being in close proximity to the incident” also reported that no racially inflammatory language had been used, and went on to suggest that perhaps the “heavy accent” that the staff member in question possesses might have led to them being “misheard”.

The Bees insist that “the senior police officer at the scene confirmed there was no allegation or substance for a criminal investigation to take place.”

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.”

A club statement read: “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.”

Barnet players were told they could be sacked if they went on strike as part of a stance against the staff member in question.

Captain Jamie Turley was reportedly suspended for taking a stand after the staff member complained.

The rest of the players then reportedly stated they would not play in Tuesday night’s game at Southend but later only changed their minds after having being told some of them could have their contracts terminated if they followed through with their stance.

Defender Turley was not named in the squad against Southend, with Rob Hall selected as captain.

Newport County v Leyton Orient – Sky Bet League Two – Cardiff City Stadium

Jamie Turley was not named in the squad at Southend (PA)

Kleanthous said: “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.”

A club statement added: “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.”

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