BROWNE ON THE BALL: Lifetime ban is modern approach to an old problem

The latest local sports news.
The latest local sports news.

You do it and you’re out. For good.

That was the message sent out by Boston United last week when a fan was banned from Pilgrims matches for life after being accused of racial abuse.

The supporter - who has not been named by the club - was alleged to have made a comment to opposition defender Wayne Thomas during last month’s 1-1 draw with Worcester City.

“Although this was a very rare incident, it was totally unacceptable,” chairman David Newton told the club’s website.

“We will not tolerate any form of racial harassment and hope that the lifetime ban issued to the perpetrator sends out a clear message.

“I would like to thank Lincolnshire Police for their assistance and I understand they are considering further actions following the admissions made.”

I think’s it’s probably fair to say that most people were expecting the supporter to receive some kind of matchday ban.

But not perhaps one quite so severe from a club which has often prided itself on offering a second chance to those who have made mistakes, Rob Wesley’s place in the squad while serving at an open prison being the most high-profile of these instances.

However, the club’s stance does show a refreshingly modern way of tackling an age-old problem, just as the reaction of the majority of fans to this incident was shock, rather than the laughter it would have garnered in less civilised times.

The audience enjoying football these days is very different to those on the foul-mouthed, urine-soaked terraces of less than 30 years ago.

Boston United have employees and fans of different sexes, races, religions and backgrounds.

And with each home game they open their doors to other clubs which are equally as diverse.

No matter how harsh a lifetime ban may seem, Newton and the board have a duty to others, not just the fan who is now probably very embarrassed and regretful (one throwaway line which may or may not be out of character has brought its own punishment).

For clubs like Boston to suceed in the modern world they have to be - and should want to be - more than 90 minutes of entertainment on Saturdays.

They have to be community assets - with education programmes, holiday coaching schools, junior teams, a cheerleading section and much, much more.

And for these to be successful they have to be all inclusive - for everyone, always - havens where each individual should be able to feel part of a bigger team, not ostracised due to skin colour or anything else.

So for that the Pilgrims have laid down the marker. Not just as a warning to everyone else on their future conduct, but also for the rest of the National League.

If any other club now deals with a similar incident, they should be forced into following the lead at the Jakemans Stadium.

If not, then members of their fanbase, community and staff should all find themselves asking ‘why not?’