Hereford’s chief executive Ken Kinnersley has hit out at a minority of fans whose behaviour – including racist comments directed at opponents during an Emirates FA Cup tie – has led to an Football Association investigation of the Evo-Stik League Southern club.
Kinnersley has told fans at Edgar Street that a small minority must be rooted out after the FA launched an investigation into events surrounding their second qualifying round clash with Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Romulus at Sutton Coldfield’s Coles Lane on Saturday 3 September.
In a statement on the Evo-Stik League Southern Division One South & West club’s website detailing recent allegations, Kinnersley said club officials were already very concerned about a recent rise in the number of complaints they’ve received about the behaviour of a small minority of ‘supporters’.
The allegations range from drunkeness and violence to property damage and he wrote: “It is with considerable regret that Hereford FC has to advise the vast majority of genuine Bulls supporters that the football club is again under investigation by the Football Association as a result of the actions of a small number of people.
“It is incredibly disappointing that so early in a new season, and having been promoted up the pyramid, our club is again under the spotlight due to the actions of a few who seem completely unable to exercise any self-discipline. Answering an FA investigation takes a lot of work and an incredible amount of staff time – especially when trying to deal with the indefensible actions of people who are unable to exercise self control.
“In addition to the FA investigation, of equal concern to everyone here at Edgar Street is the fact that in recent weeks we have also received a considerable number of complaints from individuals about the behaviour of some of the club’s ‘supporters’. These complaints have come from fans attending games at Edgar Street, supporters travelling to support the team away from home, independent fans, and also from fans of our opponents at some recent away matches in the FA Cup.
“Due to the diverse range of fans that have made contact with the club, we do give credence to these complaints because they are all so very similar in their experiences and the concerns expressed. Sadly, it appears that the small group of individuals involved in causing problems are people who are repeatedly unable to control themselves at matches, or, even more worryingly, are intent on bringing attention to themselves for the wrong reasons.”
Kinnersley, who along with other Bulls officials witnessed some unsavory scenes on Saturday during the club’s 4-2 defeat at Tonbridge Angels in the third qualifying round, added: “The behaviour being reported to us makes it clear that they cannot be classed as real supporters of this club.
Richard Tomkins, the chairman of the Hereford United Supporters Trust, backed the club’s tough stance in a statement on Wednesday.
The HUST chairman said: “HUST fully endorses the club statement concerning spectator behaviour. There is no place following Hereford FC for unruly behaviour, home or away. Perpetrators risk prosecution or banning, which HUST would strongly support. It is intolerable for a small minority to risk fines, points deductions and/or potential expulsion from cup competitions for the club.
“The conduct of the vast majority of supporters has been exemplary. We have been welcomed wherever we have played. HUST hopes this goodwill continues. Anyone witnessing unacceptable behaviour are encouraged to report it to the nearest steward, who can then take further action.”