Barnet players say they were threatened with sack in row over alleged racism | Barnet

Barnet players claim they were threatened with the sack for saying they would strike after a member of staff made an alleged racist comment at an opponent.

The club’s National League match at home to Stockport on Saturday was paused and an announcement made to the crowd after an allegation against Barnet’s first-team logistics manager, Ricky Bartlett.

The club say police concluded on the day that there was “no allegation or substance for a criminal investigation to take place”. The players asked Bartlett to stay away from training on Monday and when he turned up he was confronted by the captain, Jamie Turley.

The Guardian has been told that the squad then had long discussions about not playing Tuesday’s match at Southend and that this resulted in a threat to sack anyone who refused to take part. The match has gone ahead as scheduled.

Messages between the players and the chairman, Tony Kleanthous, were relayed on Monday and Tuesday by the head of football, Dean Brennan, who is also the acting manager.

Kleanthous said Turley and Bartlett had been suspended on full pay pending an investigation. “A suspension is not in and of itself a disciplinary action or a reflection of guilt,” he said.

Kleanthous, asked whether the players had been threatened with the sack if they did not play against Southend, said: “I have not spoken with them [and] am not aware of any direct ‘sacking’ threat to the players. However, it is worth noting that the players are contracted under the standard FA playing contracts to participate in football matches, so I would assume that any threats not to play would be a breach of their contracts and would carry heavy sanctions from the National League.”

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Kleanthous said an investigation into the alleged comment by Bartlett had been carried out on Saturday, conducted by the safety officer in consultation with the police. “The senior police officer at the scene confirms there was no allegation or substance for a criminal investigation to take place,” Kleanthous said.

He said the club were conducting further investigations “to ensure a comprehensive review of the matter” and that the observations would be sent to the Football Association. “The club will not tolerate racism or any other form of abuse and will act swiftly and robustly to deal with any such behaviour,” he said.

The Guardian has approached Bartlett for comment via the club.

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