Everton chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale was 'put in a headlock'

Video report by ITV Granada Reports Merseyside correspondent Andy Bonner

Everton chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale was 'put in a headlock' as she left the Goodison Park directors' box, club sources claim.Another incident reportedly saw her car surrounded and spat at, while chairman Bill Kenwright is said to have received death threats.

This is thought to be part of the backdrop to the safety advice warning the pair, and the rest of the club board, not to attend the club's crucial tie with Southampton.

Organisers of a protest against the running of the club being held after Saturday's game called for the demonstration to be respectful and immediately condemned any threats made towards club staff or directors.A club spokesperson described the situation as a "profoundly sad day" for Everton after it was announced the board had been urged to stay away from the ground due to a “real and credible threat to their safety and security”.

Bill Kenwright relunctantly accepts safety warning for directors to stay away Credit: PA

Mr Kenwright, Prof Barrett-Baxendale, chief finance and strategy officer Grant Ingles and non-executive director Graeme Sharp "reluctantly accepted the outcome of the safety assessment", it was added.Within the statement, the club made reference to malicious communications and "increasing incidents of anti-social behaviour – including targeted physical aggression - at recent home matches".

Merseyside football reporter Shane Pinnington was at the game

Everton sources claim they have included the incidents focused on Prof Barrett-Baxendale, threats towards Mr Kenwright and the throwing of a crowd barrier into a glass door following the defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion.The warning comes amid discontent from sections of the fanbase over how the club is being run as Everton look set for a second consecutive relegation battle.

A 'sit-in' protest following the final whistle had been organised ahead of the game as part of a campaign that has drawn the concerns of a significant number of supporter organisations and fan groups.

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