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Oldham boss Darren Kelly death threat after praise for Sinn Fein chief Martin McGuinness

By Steven Alexander

Published 12/05/2015

Twitter storm: Darren Kelly
Twitter storm: Darren Kelly

Oldham Athletic has called in police amid reports of a death threat to manager Darren Kelly after the Londonderry man called Martin McGuinness a legend.

The League One club appointed Kelly last week, but the 35-year-old has since had to deny claims that he is a supporter of the IRA.

Reports suggest the threat was delivered by hand and contained a demand for Kelly to be sacked.

The club said: "Oldham Athletic AFC are aware of threats made against individuals connected with the club. These matters have been passed to the police and the club will be making no further comments on this subject."

The controversy began when Mr Kelly used Twitter to thank the Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister for sending him a photograph of his mum, Peggy Kelly, taken at a Bloody Sunday commemoration.

Mrs Kelly's brother Michael Kelly was one of 13 civil rights supporters shot dead by paratroopers on January 30, 1972. His tweet direct to Mr McGuinness read: "My mums been at me all week saying 'did Martin tweeter that pic of me and him lol #legend."

Greater Manchester Police said they were called to Boundary Park just after 9am yesterday after "reports that a letter containing death threats had been sent to Oldham Athletic Football Club".

"An investigation has been launched and inquiries are ongoing."

Det Insp Mark McDowall, of GMP's Oldham Division, added: "I understand incidents like this can cause tension in the local community but I would like to assure everybody that we take matters like this very seriously and an investigation is now under way."

Some fans took to social media to express their disgust at the former Portadown and Derry City footballer's tweet.

Some threatened to boycott Oldham matches and a Facebook group was set up calling for Mr Kelly to be sacked.

Mr Kelly defended the tweet, saying he respected the former IRA commander for his role in the peace process - but not for his actio ns during the Troubles.

"I'm not political. The only thing I want in Northern Ireland is peace," he said.

Mr Kelly has since deleted his Twitter account, and claimed that the row had been "blown out of proportion".

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