Under-11’s football club fined £3,000 after substituting boy in move parents claimed was 'racist'

Gabriella Swerling
An under-11’s football club was taken to court and fined £3,000 after substituting a player in a move which his parents claimed amounted to “emotional abuse and racism”.   - Chris Ryan

An under-11’s football club was taken to court and fined £3,000 after substituting a player in a move which his parents claimed amounted to “emotional abuse and racism”.

Following a summer football tournament, directors at Winnersh Rangers, based in Berkshire, were shocked when they received a letter to inform them of the fine after being found guilty at court.

The small club in Reading did not attend a hearing at Reading County Court and was forced to pay up.

The player, aged 10, was substituted during a pre-season football tournament in 2018 while playing for the club's Aztecs youth side.

His father then brought the boy back to training at the beginning of the new season, before suddenly removing him from the team in September and accused the club of racially targeting the young player.

Phil Chick, the club’s secretary, said that the club were “disappointed” to lose the player, and conducted two investigations alongside Berkshire FA, who cleared the club of any offences.

He said the boy's father had initially reported the club to the local council's child protection department and that the club then ended up being taken to court.

However, Mr Chick claimed that they were not informed and ended up losing the case and being fined £3,000.

Mr Chick, who is also a manager of an Under 10's football team at the club, said: "The player in question played with us for about two seasons.

"The most important thing for us as a club is the children, we want them to enjoy playing football.

"If they are a good player that is purely a bonus for us.

"Last summer the Under 10's teams played in a pre-season tournament and the manager substituted this particular player.

"His father didn't take well to the decision, but substitutions are just a part of the game and the manager wanted to give everyone a fair chance and even playing time.

"The parent then brought the player back to the club at the start of the new season in September but quickly removed him and asked to be refunded for his signing-on-fee, which of course we refunded.

"We were told he contacted Wokingham Borough Council's child protection scheme and accused the substitution of being emotional abuse and racism.

"We didn't hear anything else for a few months but then we received a letter from Reading County Court saying we had missed a hearing and had been fined £3,000."

Mr Chick added he “couldn't believe” the club had been fined, but added that he is confident the club will win their appeal against the fine and will get their money back.

He added: "Losing thousands of pounds is a big hit for a local club like ours. I'm confident we can challenge the ruling in court and get our money back.

"So far we haven't seen any documentation so we don't know the full facts of the allegations.

"All we know is that the parent has accused the club of emotional abuse and racism against his son.

"It's a shame because it feels like the child has been forgotten in all of this, he can no longer play football for his local team because of this."

The club will challenge the ruling at Reading County Court on May 2.

A club spokesman added: “Winnersh Rangers FC is unable to comment any further as we do not wish to jeopardise any possible future Court proceedings. We also do not wish to cause the parties to this case any undue distress.”