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Bury to play behind closed doors after fans’ abusive chants

Bury’s Carabao Cup match against Sheffield Wednesday next Tuesday has been suspended, the EFL has announced
Bury’s Carabao Cup match against Sheffield Wednesday next Tuesday has been suspended, the EFL has announced

Bury FC have been ordered to play two matches behind closed doors after a Football Association charge for targeting disabled supporters, chants of “f----t” at a fan wearing a rainbow shirt and racist shouts including the word “P---”.

The FA punishment has been branded excessive by the North West Counties club, who are in the ninth tier after merging with a phoenix club having been expelled from the English Football League. They are appealing the decision over incidents in their fixture against West Didsbury and Chorlton on Sept 10.

Written reasons published for the punishment disclose the level of abuse that was reported by Kick It Out to the FA after the game. A supporter was “repeatedly shouting “f----t” at an away supporter wearing a ‘rainbow’ shirt and also using the word “P---” towards another person in the stand”.

According to the published reasons, Bury FC supporters were also “making homophobic ‘waving’ (it is assumed ‘limp wrist’) gestures at away supporters”.

“Further evidence was received by West Didsbury and Chorlton FC representatives from a supporter on Sept 10 2023 stating that she had heard Bury FC supporters use the words “spastic” and “retard” towards supporters using the disabled facilities at the ground.”

Bury pleaded guilty to the charge but after the punishment was handed down said the two matches without fans was excessive.

“The basis of our appeal is that the punishment is excessive,” a statement from the club read. “We have seen multiple incidents over recent years of groups of supporters collectively issuing racist, misogynistic and homophobic abuse, as well as tragedy chanting. These have gone unpunished or have been dealt with by fines. We acted on the day. We are unable to completely control the words of two people in a crowd of 3,838 on that particular occasion.

“We accept there should be a punishment, but excluding every well-behaved football supporter from a stadium that has already excluded those who perpetrated the offences, does nothing to promote inclusion.

“The loss of revenue is extremely damaging and our belief is that it would be far better to use that revenue to fund a campaign intended to positively promote diversity and inclusion. Football needs to change, this would help make that change.

“A stadium closure throws this opportunity away and is likely to ignite a more divisive and polarised debate on these important issues.

“We have taken huge strides to actively promote diversity and inclusion since forming the club and have raised money and awareness throughout the borough through the hard work of our volunteers, many of whom will be deeply dismayed by this judgment as it punishes them despite their efforts.

“We are also concerned that this specific judgment has been published publicly whilst matters are still being considered by the relevant law enforcement authorities.”

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