Hatters confirm no evidence found over allegations of racist abuse

Matty Pearson heads away during Tuesday night's match with Accrington
Matty Pearson heads away during Tuesday night's match with Accrington

Luton Town have confirmed that no evidence has been found surrounding two allegations of racist comments made by spectators during the League One clash with Accrington Stanley at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday night.

During the match, a BBC Radio Lancashire commentator claimed he heard racist remarks towards visiting striker Offrande Zanzala, while assistant BBC Sport producer Karen Fazackerley, who was at the game, alleged on Twitter that defender Michael Ihiekwe was also abused by Luton supporters.

However, after studying the audio footage extensively, the Hatters this afternoon released a statement on the club website confirming that there was no evidence of either incident occurring.

It read: "The first incident was reported to the club, police and stewards on the night by a visiting journalist in the press area who accused a supporter of using a racist term in relation to one of Accrington’s players.

“The second incident was not reported to the club, but has developed from a post made on social media by a spectator in the away section of the ground, which accuses Luton supporters of racist chants.

“Regarding the first incident, as part of our own investigations, club officials have interviewed a number of supporters in and around the press box and invited others to comment.

“We have listened carefully to audio coverage and liaised with the police continuously. The club has found no evidence to back up the accusations and we await police advice before conclusion, however, we will need to discuss the matter with an elderly gentleman supporter about using bad language – which was not racist – when he was in the stadium.

“Regarding the second incident, despite not being in receipt of a complaint, we took it upon ourselves to investigate it because we take such accusations, whether direct, indirect or via social media, very seriously.

“Club officials have now listened carefully to as much commentary and audio as we possibly could and have consulted trusted supporters’ groups and spectators who were in that area, many of whom have responded to say that nothing racist, as has been alleged, was chanted towards any player on the pitch.

“The club has found no evidence to back up the accusations and we await police advice before conclusion.

“The factual evidence remains that of 8,500 people in the stadium, three people claim to have heard racist remarks – a BBC Radio Lancashire commentator, an Accrington Stanley director who was co-commentating with him, and a BBC assistant producer in the Oak Road Stand with away supporters.

“We would like to reiterate the club’s stance that no form of discrimination is acceptable in football, or society as a whole, and with our stadium being situated in one of the most racially and culturally diverse areas of the country, we pride ourselves on being good neighbours and hosts.

"We work closely with Kick It Out and Show Racism The Red Card, in addition to many other excellent anti-prejudice campaigns, and are proud of our historical record in fighting racism and discrimination of any description.

"Any Luton Town supporter found to have made discriminatory comments will have sanctions imposed by the club and offered educational help on such an important issue.

"We take the allegations extremely seriously and will continue to help Bedfordshire Police with their enquiries.

"We will update supporters again when those further investigations have been concluded."