Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Banner flag 'sectarian', says English football club chairman

The Northern Ireland flag read
The Northern Ireland flag read "Herne Bay, Loyal & True".
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

The chairman of an English football club has branded the Ulster Banner flag "sectarian" after an opposition fan brought the flag to the club's ground.

A supporter of Herne Bay brought the Ulster Banner to Haringey Borough FC's Coles Park Stadium for a FA Cup qualifying game on Saturday.

Following the game Haringey Borough FC's chairman Aki Achillea issued a statement saying the supporter was asked to remove the "sectarian flag" which he said supported "the Ulster Unionists".

However, the flag read "Herne Bay, Loyal & True" and made no reference to the Ulster Unionist Party.

The chairman said that the supporter refused to remove the flag and no further action was taken.

Mr Achillea said: "Rather than escalate what could have turned out to be an unfavourable situation and detract from the match itself a decision was taken to take no further action against this individual.

"The matter was pointed out to the referee and to the visiting officials from Herne Bay FC .

"It must be pointed out that the Club in so doing in no way associate themselves with the views of this individual and do not support and will not tolerate in any way shape or form the displaying of any material that is likely to cause offence to any person of whatever colour, creed, disability or sexuality.

"Any such person who brings such material to our ground in future will be asked to leave forthwith and if appropriate reported to the relevant authorities.

"We are an all inclusive diverse Club where absolutely everyone is welcome and no one will be permitted to promote or inflict upon others any views which conflict with the ethos of our club."

The Belfast Telegraph is attempting to contact the chairman to further clarify the statement.

The Ulster Banner was the official flag of Northern Ireland until 1972. It remains however, the officially recognised flag for the Northern Ireland international football team.

The club's statement led to a row on the clubs official website.

One fan wrote: "Absolutely outrageous statement. The flag and words are as far away from what you suggest as possible. We would suggest and urge you to retract those comments and apologise to the gentleman in question."

Another said: "Please explain in what way this flag is sectarian. It is not purely the flag of the Ulster Unionists.

"It is the official flag of Northern Ireland and is as valid as the Scottish Saltire, the English St. George Cross or Welsh Baner Cymru."

One Northern Ireland supporter posted: "That is the flag of my country you absolute clown... I find your ridiculous statement offensive and maybe you need to learn about which countries make up the United Kingdom! Watch the flag be flown at Windsor park tonight against Germany?"

Haringey Borough FC is based in Tottenham in the London Borough of Haringey.

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