Burnley identify fans behind offensive banner flown at Etihad Stadium
Burnley chief executive Neil Hart: "I was disgusted and ashamed to see that being trailed. We believe we know who's responsible and we will ban those individuals for life"
Last Updated: 24/06/20 7:23pm
Burnley believe they have identified the fans responsible for the offensive banner flown over their match with Manchester City and will hand them lifetime bans from the club, says chief executive Neil Hart.
Hart said he is "disgusted and ashamed" by the actions of supporters who paid for the 'White Lives Matter Burnley' message to be flown over the Etihad Stadium on Monday night.
The incident occurred shortly after kick-off and moments after the two sets of players, who wore shirts emblazoned with 'Black Lives Matter', had taken a knee in support of the anti-racist movement.
Asked if the supporters responsible would receive a lifetime ban, Hart told Sky News: "100 per cent, we believe we know who's responsible and we will ban those individuals for life.
"When I saw the banner go over the Etihad from the directors' box I was disgusted, that's the word I would use. I was ashamed to see that being trailed over the Etihad like that.
"It's certainly not what we stand for as a football club, it's not what we stand for as a town, as a collective or community."
A statement from Lancashire Police on Tuesday evening stated no criminal offences have been disclosed at this time as they continue with their enquiries to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident.
The plane took off from and returned to Blackpool Airport, which stopped operating banner flights with immediate effect.
However, Blackpool Airport manager Stephen Smith told Sky Sports News that suggestions that the company Air Ads Ltd has been grounded are incorrect.
"The company involved has not been grounded, banner towing flights have been suspended for anyone wishing to operate to and from the airport," Smith said.
"This decision was not based on the events of Monday evening, and once reviewed, banner towing may be allowed to recommence."
It is not yet known who flew the plane or who commissioned the banner, despite social media posts claiming responsibility for the incident.
"We stand in solidarity with our players, with the league, with other clubs and with all our community stakeholders that we will continue to fight any form of discrimination," added Hart.
"Let's be very clear, Black Lives Matter is a cause players feel passionately about. It's there to highlight inequalities. Of course all lives matter, but that's common sense and this is about equality.
"Some individuals don't understand that or are choosing not to understand. [Monday] night is a prime example of that and it is raising racial hate.
"I've spent the last six years here heading up Burnley FC in the community and one of my top priorities, and it continues to be a top priority, is to eradicate any form of discrimination.
"Certainly from this football club, certainly from this stadium, and from the town. I will continue to keep that as one of my mantras because it's totally unacceptable and we will continue to fight it."
Burnley captain Mee: I'm ashamed and embarrassed
"I'm ashamed and embarrassed that a small number of our fans have decided to put that around the stadium," Burnley captain Ben Mee said post-match on Monday Night Football.
"They've completely missed the point. The lads are embarrassed to see that. It's not what we're about. They've completely missed the point about the whole thing we're trying to achieve.
"These people need to come into the 21st century and educate themselves. It does not represent what we're about, the club's about, the players are about and what the majority of the fans are about.
"It's a small minority of people and I'm really upset that has happened.
"As we were coming out, we heard some whispers it was going to happen. The club tried to stop it but I've heard it's a small number of people that have arranged this.
"I hope it doesn't happen again. Like I said, I am ashamed and upset that this is associated with our club, my club, and it's not something we want to see in the game at all.
"It's not right. I totally condemn it. Like I said, I am embarrassed by it. It misses the whole point of everything, hopefully these people can learn about what the Black Lives Matters movement is trying to achieve."