Burnley player Dwight McNeil criticises Darren Bent for wrongly claiming the club has ‘no black players’ after the plane stunt.
A small aircraft flew over the Etihad Stadium two minutes after Manchester City and Burnley players took the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, something all players have done before each game this weekend.
The banner which was attached to the plane appeared above them reading ‘White Lives Matter Burnley!’ leaving many outraged.
A plane flew over the Etihad stadium tonight with this banner saying ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’. So depressing. ? pic.twitter.com/W5WFkrQ8so
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 22, 2020
With the plane buzzing above them for a few minutes, several Burnley players were filmed shaking their heads in disapproval.
After the match, Burnley captain Ben Mee revealed that the club were aware of the banner before the game: “We literally heard as we were coming out.
“We heard some whispers it was going to happen, the club tried to stop it but I’ve heard it’s a small number of people who’ve arranged this, hope it doesn’t happen again.
“I’m ashamed, I’m embarrassed that a small number of our fans have decided to put that around the stadium. It completely missed the point, the group of lads in there are embarrassed to see that. It’s not what we’re about at all.
“These people need to come into the 21st century and educate themselves, as a lot of us do. It’s very important to say it doesn’t represent Burnley fans as a whole.”
“I’m ashamed and embarrassed”
Burnley’s Ben Mee responds to an offensive banner flown over the Etihad Stadium before today’s game with Man City
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) June 22, 2020
Manager Sean Dyche commented after the game: “I heard a noise, I can only support the statement, unacceptable, but you can’t judge a whole club or town on that.
“Burnley Football Club strongly condemns the actions of those responsible. We wish to make it clear that those responsible are not welcome at Turf Moor.
“This, in no way, represents what Burnley Football Club stands for and we will work fully with the authorities to identify those responsible and issue lifetime bans.”
The plane company defends the actions, the BBC’s Alistair Magowan confirmed that they have no guilt over their part in the incident.
The company, who are based in Blackpool, told the BBC: “If an ad is legal and no course language is used then we don’t take sides.”
As photos of the plane circulated on social media, Dwight McNeil hit out at talkSPORT pundit and footballer Darren Bent for claiming the club had no black players.
Bent’s now deleted tweet said: “Strange considering Burnley have NO black players in there (their) squad at all.”
The caused a backlash, with McNeil saying: “As a player of Bame origin, I find Darren Bent’s comments tonight completely disrespectful, especially to my father, who is black and who has been a huge influence in my life and helped make me the person I am proud to be.”
McNeil is one of two black players in the current Burnley senior squad alongside Aaron Lennon – who played alongside Bent at Tottenham as well as for England.
Burnley also have several Bame players in their academy, and issued a strongly-worded statement.
“Burnley Football Club strongly condemns the actions of those responsible for the aircraft and offensive banner that flew over The Etihad Stadium on Monday evening,” a club statement read.
“We wish to make it clear that those responsible are not welcome at Turf Moor.
“This, in no way, represents what Burnley Football Club stands for and we will work fully with the authorities to identify those responsible and take appropriate action.
“The club has a proud record of working with all genders, religions and faiths through its award-winning Community scheme, and stands against racism of any kind.
“We are fully behind the Premier League’s Black Lives Matter initiative and, in line with all other Premier League games undertaken since Project Restart, our players and football staff willingly took the knee at kick-off at Manchester City.
“We apologise unreservedly to the Premier League, to Manchester City and to all those helping to promote Black Lives Matter.”
Fans reacted after seeing both the club statement and Burnley player Dwight McNeil criticises Darren Bent for claiming club has no black players…
Well said, Burnley. pic.twitter.com/wYwSC1a5uo
— Robin Johnston (@RobinJohnston24) June 22, 2020
The banner doesn’t represent all Burnley fans at all, 99% of fans would agree with me in saying it’s a disgrace.
— tyler bradshaw (@TylerDeanBrad) June 22, 2020
Thats him. Ban him immediately. pic.twitter.com/bNwWlT2Ubm
— Jon Warburton. (@jon_warburton) June 22, 2020
— Dave Haslam (@Mr_Dave_Haslam) June 22, 2020
Fairplay. Here’s a message to the “all lives matter” brigade… pic.twitter.com/XSrVOd8xaz
— Mohad (@mohamedamiin2) June 22, 2020
Please ban for life. Real fans don’t want this in our club
— Mandy Baxter (@mandy166) June 22, 2020
Irrespective of rivalries, credit must go to Burnley for the swift response to tonight’s actions. Well done
— Terry ? (@aterryblepun) June 22, 2020
Well said Dwight. I’m appalled by the plane tonight sent by a minority of ours fans. It’s heartbreaking and devastating, it does not represent our fan base. We stand with the Black Lives Matter movement, and against all forms of racism. A sad night indeed for the club ?
— George Poole (@GeorgePuddle) June 22, 2020
Care to reply @DarrenBent ?
— Dan Lord (@LordyDJ85) June 22, 2020
Absolutely spot on Dwight. A lazy and very uneducated tweet from @DarrenBent . Just completely not needed and only adds petrol to a fire that so many of us are desperate to extinguish (but not forget) for good! Unluck tonight Dwight. Go again on Thursday! UTC
— John Robertson (@claretcrumpet) June 22, 2020
Well In Dwight Lad❤️
— Liam (@OfficialVizeh) June 22, 2020
It’s an appalling comment Dwight – absolutely appalling.
— Up the Clarets (@utcdotcom) June 22, 2020
Well in Dwight ignore what anyone says
— Ash??????? (@BrownhillSZN) June 22, 2020
Dwight, Darren is looking for some clout to get his career as a radio presenter on track. Unlike yourself who lets his abilities do the talking, Darren has opted to go down the route of lies and controversy due to him being absolutely boring l and having the personality of a rock
— Luke (@HeatonBFC) June 22, 2020