Barnsley fined by FA over deputy safety officer’s ‘unacceptable’ McClean comment

Barnsley have been fined £20,000 by the Football Association and ordered to “implement an action plan” after the club’s deputy safety officer told match officials that James McClean “should be used to” abuse.

Peter Clegg’s reaction to sectarian abuse directed at Stoke midfielder McClean has been highlighted as a “serious aggravating factor” by an independent regulatory commission regarding the incident which took place during the Championship fixture at Oakwell last year.

The FA sanction relates to chants heard during the clash between the sides on November 9, which the Potters won 4-2.

Derry-born McClean has repeatedly faced criticism for his decision not to wear a poppy on his shirt in the game closest to Remembrance Day.

The 30-year-old has said that decision was taken out of respect for those who died in the city on Bloody Sunday in 1972.

Clegg was informed of the chanting in a post-match meeting with the referee, assistants and Liam Slack, from the PGMOL, and said: “He’s a professional footballer, he should be used to it by now.”

Referee Jeremy Simpson reported the “unacceptable and inappropriate” comment to the Barnsley secretary and Clegg has been warned by his employers – an external organisation used by the club – over his conduct and instructed to undertake an equality and diversity course for re-education.

A report from the FA released on Friday also states: “We noted that Clegg has not been disciplined by the club, which continues to use him in the role of deputy safety officer.

“And we do have concerns (based on Barnsley safety officer Steve Bailey’s evidence) as to Clegg’s suitability to hold a role of responsibility at the club, particularly one which requires him to play an important role in the implementation of the club’s anti-discriminatory abuse.”

On Friday the FA charged Barnsley with a breach of rule E20 and says the club “admitted failing to ensure that its spectators, and all persons purporting to be its supporters or followers, conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and refrained from using abusive and/or insulting words which included a reference, whether express or implied, to nationality and/or religion and/or beliefs while attending the fixture.”

In a statement, the club said: “Barnsley Football Club has a zero-tolerance policy on any form of discrimination and, as such, are immensely disappointed to have been found guilty of violating FA rulings.

“The club will act upon the case findings and will continue to work closely with the FA and Kick It Out. Anybody found to be involved in any form of discriminatory behaviour when representing Barnsley Football Club face a potential ban from attending matches.”