ROW OVER BANNER

THE Crescent Stand at Glenavon’s Mourneview Park will now be “closed at future home games until further notice” as a row brews between the club and a group of supporters.

A scuffle erupted in the Crescent Stand during last week’s Irish Cup Fifth Round tie after match stewards attempted to remove a banner that supporters had, according to the club, previously been told not to display.

The IFA observer’s report of the match claims that “six/seven fans attacked both them (the stewards) and Trevor Harper (club director).

“There was a lot of pushing and shoving by the six/seven fans and it looked as though a number of punches were aimed at the stewards and Trevor Harper,” the report continued.

The IFA observer also claims that the banner, which contains two pictures of King William of Orange, “would have contravened the terms of the club’s license,” something that the owners of the banner dispute.

Glenavon FC have issued the following statement:

“The decision (to close the Crescent Stand) was taken in response to the incidents that occurred on Boxing Day and during the Irish Cup game on January 14th.

“The irresponsible actions of a small number of people frequenting the Crescent Stand are jeopardising our status as an IFA Premiership club by repeatedly breaching the terms of our domestic License issued by the Irish Football Association and our Safety Certificate issued by Craigavon Borough Council. Despite repeated warnings, these individuals appear determined to land the club in trouble with the authorities.

“This situation clearly cannot be allowed to happen and unfortunately the financial cost of providing security and safety to our supporters and safety stewards within the Crescent Stand has become disproportionate to the benefits of having the Stand remaining open. The club very much regrets the inconvenience closure of the Crescent Stand will cause to our genuine supporters who frequent that stand on match days.”

Under section S.03 A of the IFA’s Domestic Club Licensing Manual, the Anti Racism/ Anti Sectarianism Policy, clubs must “not tolerate any form of sectarianism, racially offensive behaviour or chanting” and the owners of the banner in question argue that their flag does not breach these, or any other, requirements of Glenavon’s domestic license.

“Having looked at the UEFA Ten Point Plan, IFA Domestic Licence criteria and Glenavon’s own Code of Conduct there does not appear to us to be anything which states any images of past monarchs of the country contravene the terms of the club licence,” they told the ‘MAIL.’

“The banner has been about the ground for at least 20 years with no problems, and it is only in recent months that there has been any issue with its presence. This appears to stem from boardroom level.”

The supporters also point the finger back at club officials for a lack of discussions regarding the issue and deny that any fan connected to the banner was involved in throwing punches at this month’s Irish Cup tie against Portadown.

“On only one occasion has a club official approached one supporter about the flag. Barring this there has never been any contact from the club about it,” their statement continued.

“The PSNI did state that the club would be in contact to arrange a meeting but, to date, the board has never followed up on this.”