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WBA fans split over signing James McClean after poppy stance

By Claire McNeilly

Published 19/06/2015

Republic of Ireland star James McClean
Republic of Ireland star James McClean

Controversial footballer James McClean's imminent move to West Bromwich Albion has divided fans at the Premier League club.

The 26-year-old Londonderry man, who represented Northern Ireland up to under-21 level before opting to play for the Republic, sparked anger after refusing to wear a Remembrance Day poppy at previous clubs Sunderland and Wigan.

McClean received death threats in the wake of his decision.

He had considered leaving the UK for a new life in the United States after receiving an offer from New York Red Bulls, but the winger is now expected to join WBA for a fee of £1.5m.

One West Brom supporter took to Twitter to say: "James McClean? That's left field! I kinda thought/hoped we'd be setting our sights a bit higher than that!"

Another wrote: "I don't like him as a person but he's a good squad player."

And someone else said: "Won't judge James McClean until I have seen him play for us. Have to give him a chance."

The Birmingham Mail is currently running an online poll among West Brom fans to ascertain whether the winger would be welcome at The Hawthorns.

And rival publication The Express and Star, which is a strong supporter of West Brom, has taken the unusual step of republishing a letter McClean wrote to Wigan owner Dave Whelan last November in which he outlined his stance on wearing a poppy.

"For people from the North of Ireland such as myself, and specifically those in Derry, scene of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, the poppy has come to mean something very different," an extract read.

"Mr Whelan, for me to wear a poppy would be as much a gesture of disrespect for the innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles - and Bloody Sunday especially - as I have in the past been accused of disrespecting the victims of WWI and WWII.

"It would be seen as an act of disrespect to those people; to my people."

While at Sunderland, the club banned McClean from Twitter after his stated admiration for rebel song The Broad Black Brimmer by The Wolfe Tones, before a game against West Brom.

West Brom, whose nickname is The Baggies, have made no comment on McClean's impending move.

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