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Fan solidarity “too political” say Leicester

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

A group of Leicester City supporters who backed a campaign by rival Scunthorpe fans have astonishingly been silenced by their own club. Keep Scunthorpe Standing, launched to protect and retain the standing area at Glanford Park, was given whole-hearted backing by Foxes fans’ group the Fosse Boys during their team’s 3-1 home victory over the Iron on Saturday (see pic).

What should be an entirely positive story – one set of fans back another’s campaign in a show of supporter solidarity – unfortunately left a bitter taste as Leicester City’s hierarchy thought differently and instructed stewards to remove the banners. The decision has gone down like a lead balloon amongst many Foxes fans who resent the suppression of legitimate fans’ views.

“We are extremely disappointed at the attitude of our club in insisting we take down the banner supporting the campaign to maintain standing areas at Scunthorpe United’s ground Glanford Park,” said a spokesperson for the Fosse Boys, a Leicester City supporters’ group.

“At a recent meeting we held with club officials, including the chief executive Lee Hoos, we were encouraged to campaign for the right of fans of clubs in the top two divisions to have the choice to sit or stand in safety as they prefer. That’s exactly what we were doing at the Walkers Stadium on Saturday.”

The Fosse Boys also point out that Scunthorpe United themselves actually back Keep Scunthorpe Standing so Leicester City wouldn’t have been going head-to-head with, or causing difficulties for, a fellow Football League member.

“The insistence of the stewards that we took the banner down was an infringement on our right to free speech. Apparently the club’s head of operations Kevin Barclay said the banner was “too political”. How an earth can a banner that simply supports our fellow football fans at Scunthorpe United in their campaign, which is also backed by their own club, be regarded as political?” ask the Fosse Boys.

“This ban is oppressive and completely unnecessary. We’re sure that all Foxes fans will agree, as will the people of Leicester and throughout the county of Leicestershire. We call on the club not to oppress fans simply expressing a non-violent and non-abusive point of view.”

The FSF contacted Leicester City’s press office but was told that no one was available for comment.

The Scunthorpe fans’ choice to stand is under threat as current Championship rules dictate that a club promoted from Leagues One or Two can only retain standing for three seasons. 2011/12 would be Scunthorpe’s fourth season in the Championship and therefore, according to Football League rules, Glanford Park would have to be converted into an all-seater stadium.

Polls regularly show that 90 per cent of fans wish to be given the choice whether to stand or sit (see safe standing area in Germany, right) while it’s an increasingly common sight to see fans ignoring ground regulations and choosing to stand. For more on the FSF’s safe standing campaign click here.

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