Well, where do you start with this one! It’s a sensitive topic that plagues society as well as football and something we can’t seem to deal with effectively. I am of course talking about racism which is prevalent in our game and across the footballing world, but this one strikes a lot closer to home.
A big majority of you will have read by now of an alleged incident during the Barnet vs Stockport County match on Saturday at The Hive, a game I attended with a good mate of mine Nick Patel.
The game was halted around 15 minutes in but there was uncertainty as to why. The referee held conversations with his assistant on that side of the field nearest the tunnel, both captains, a steward, the managers and also the 4th official. Play took about 5-10 minutes to re-start and I thought whatever it was had been dealt with.
Then around 10-15 minutes after the stoppage an anti-racism message was broadcasted over the tannoy and again I assumed it had been dealt with at the time and to be honest didn’t think too much of it.
Fast forward to Tuesday night and a trip to Southend. I arrived and sat down after eating to check out the team news, no Jamie Turley who I assumed picked up a knock at the weekend, no Beard or Taylor, the latter two I found out after were ill and suspended. From here is where it unravels!
I messaged Nick to say no Turley and forwarded on came a link to a Daily Mirror article about Barnet embroiled in a racism row and that if I read it I would know why Turley was not there.
Turley had indeed been suspended from the club on full pay following an incident at The Hive on Monday morning which came about from the allegations on Saturday.
Ricky Bartlett, the clubs apparent logistics manager (more on that later) and NOT a member of the coaching staff, is alleged to have made a racist comment to Stockport County defender Ryan Johnson that caused the stoppage in play.
Bartlett wasn’t suspended by the club initially despite the chairman being made aware on the Sunday of an issue whereby the players weren’t comfortable with him being around the complex at training time.
As per the statements released so far Turley clashed with Bartlett leading to the latter making his feelings known to the chairman and Turley receiving his suspension. Bartlett was eventually also suspended but it appears after the Bees captain.
Now all of this appeared on various newspaper links an hour before the game was due to kick off at Roots Hall, leaked out I assume from the club but by who that remains a mystery. That led to the club releasing a statement once they knew it was out in the open, once again poor communication that we have seen on so many occasions and the timing itself was also very poor.
Word then began to filter around the stand before, during and after the game with much speculation abound, the game itself merely a by-product almost in front of us for its duration.
The atmosphere itself wasn’t pleasant at all in the away end, disbelief, angry, confused, the best way to describe the emotions but getting behind the players on the pitch at the same time.
Once the game had finished a few took to venting their frustrations as the staff and players were leaving the pitch, two of the staff members did walk across and talk to them, I didn’t hear what was said as I was out of earshot.
Going back to the article the playing squad had backed Turley and refused to turn out on Tuesday night and didn’t train on Monday nor anything light on Tuesday morning. The reason the players did play was down to Dean Brennan solely to convince them to play for him, for Dave Anderson and for us as supporters.
There seems some uncertainty that they were told going on strike would see some contracts terminated or players fined, we do know however if they had failed to fulfil the fixture then the club would have been on the receiving end of a fine themselves.
If you’re still reading and not in a confused state of mind, then well done! I’m not convinced I’ve got things in order and this is after a re-read twice over.
Since I began to write this earlier on Wednesday the club have since issued another statement with more bullet points and information than before but it still begs a few questions need to be answered.
Reading the statement sent out on Wednesday afternoon those closest to the incident confirm nothing untoward was said out of context or that what was said wasn’t deemed to be racist in its wording.
If however nothing out of the ordinary was said then why has the County player in question reported it to the Kick It Out campaign? Because if the said wording is not racist then it’s another can of worms opening up surely?
What don’t I understand is why the club didn’t undertake a thorough investigation a day later and suspend Bartlett while they completed it? The FA would be involved in any case which they are now and potentially this could have been concluded by now.
If you or I had done this same thing in a normal workplace we’d be on suspension pending investigation and released back to work if the allegations were unfounded, why does it appear to be done differently? It’s their place of work, the same rules don’t apply?
If they had followed those parts above then Turley wouldn’t have been in the situation he’s ended up in now, there would a more calmer approach to it instead of het-up angry comments flying around everywhere.
I can understand people saying the players were wrong to strike, but like in a disagreement you back your mate, they feel their skipper was hard done by because the club hasn’t followed what you would expect when serious allegations are made and at this stage until every last morsal has been investigated that’s what they are.
I don’t understand why reference had to be made to Bartlett no longer holding the position of Logistics Manager due to a severe heart condition, surely that has no bearing on anything discussed above? And if he’s only a member of the site team should he be anywhere close to the training sessions as he now has no impact on any football related matters that he was once responsible for?
My hashtag on Twitter of #WeStandByTurley isn’t an admission of guilt on the part of Bartlett as one or two have suggested, I stand by the fact that whatever happened on Monday morning was avoidable and he’s paying the price for it as are the team without his presence on the pitch.
The whole thing has left a sour taste in the mouths of many for a situation that could have been handled far differently and we’re not here talking about football, but you have to take the rough with the smooth, that’s Barnet FC…………………