Blackpool FC punished after fans directed sectarian abuse towards James McClean

Credit: PA Images

Blackpool FC have been fined and had an action plan imposed on them after their supporters directed sectarian abuse towards Wigan winger James McClean.

The Seasiders were fined £35,000 and were also issued with a warning.

In a statement the club said any repeat could lead to increased financial penalties and even force the team to play matches behind closed doors.

In the written reasons explaining its decision, the independent regulatory commission examining the case said McClean had reported abuse from one individual in the crowd to assistant referee Steve Meredith in the eighth minute of the match on 15 April.

In the delay as referee Thomas Bramall reported the incident to Blackpool’s tunnel steward, a large section of the home crowd engaged in a further, “prolonged” sectarian chant, the written reasons stated.

Blackpool said in their statement they would treat this matter “with the utmost severity” and added their intention to “develop existing initiatives to become a more inclusive and proactive club, both at home and away fixtures”.

The written reasons highlighted “shortcomings” in Blackpool’s handling of the matter, including the failure to make any announcements over the public address system at Bloomfield Road, or to issue a statement immediately after the match condemning the abuse.

The commission said the fine issued would have been higher had it not been for Blackpool’s co-operation with the Football Association, admission of the charge, their engagement with the English Football League and their good disciplinary record.

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