A fan backlash on social media site Twitter causes a non league club to make a sudden U-turn in signing up a jailed footballer.
Supporters, and not just of Selby Town, were left outraged after they gave a ‘second chance’ to Reece Thompson, who was for severely beating up his girlfriend.
The male was jailed for using an iron bar, forced her to eat paint, smashed mirrors over her head, rubbed glass into her and threatened her to run down a street naked.
He pleaded guilty and was sent to 40 months locked up and also received a 10-year restraining order.
He was released from prison early, then he tweeted on January the 4th that he would be looking for a new club, as can be seen in the tweet below.
Need to dig the boots back out. anyone need a few goals banging in? Haha
— Reece Thompson (@Reece22Thompson) January 4, 2020
Northern Counties East League Division One side Selby Town chose to play him in a pre-season friendly which ended 5-3 to Tadcaster Albion, he was named as ‘trialist’ on social media.
However eagle-eyed fans noticed Reece in the photos and quickly slammed him and the club. No surprise after seeing what he did to his ex-partner.
She told Lincolnshire Live: “Reece repeatedly hit me.
“He hit me with an iron bar, broke my jaw and smashed a mirror over my head.
“I was made to lick paint up off the floor and then he smashed another mirror over my head.
“It was when he picked up the second mirror that I thought I was going to die, I screamed for him to stop or he would kill me.
“He told me to get my arms down and take the beating like a real person.”
Selby ended up issuing a statement, which read: “Yesterday evening we took part in a pre-season friendly at which a decision was made to play a new trialist – Reece Thompson.
“We wish to make clear that when including this person in our squad we were not condoning his actions or making light of his prior conviction, we accept it was a mistake to give the player a trial and wholeheartedly apologise for any upset it has caused.
“As a community football club we pride ourselves on being family friendly and as a club we take this very seriously.”
— Jason Higgins (@jahiggins208) August 26, 2020
Fast forward a few weeks and Selby Town chose to sign him up – and it certainly caused a backlash from fans online.
The club statement read: “During pre-season we trialled a player by the name of Reece Thompson. At the time many supporters and non supporters expressed their opinion on the trial due to the events and court proceedings in Reece’s past. Following this trial we released a statement stating that Reece would not be joining our team on an ongoing basis.
“Since then a great deal of discussion has taken place within the club, and with Reece himself as to his actions, his sentence, and what comes next for him.
“As made clear in our original statement, the club does not condone Reece’s actions and we can only imagine the impact upon those involved. For what he has done, Reece has rightly been judged in a court of law and served his sentence.
“With that sentence now served and with the ongoing work Reece carries out to understand and learn from his behaviour, we have come to the conclusion that it is not our place to continue to further punish Reece for his actions, he has received his punishment and carried out his sentence, and with that in mind we believe that a second chance could and should be provided both in employment and in recreation.
“Further to this, we believe that being part of our club and being surrounded by the strong management team we have in place can further help Reece to overcome his past and to ensure that he learns from his actions and is able to fulfil a role within society.
“We understand there will be many that disagree with our stance, likewise there will be those who believe he has served his sentence and should be allowed to now carry on with life. We hope going forward Reece will be judged on his actions from this point with his knowledge that the expectations and standard of behaviour expected of him are high.”
That caused a huge amount of outrage, and because of that, the club then re-considered signing the player.
Further to our previous statement, we have listened to all of the comments and Reece Thompson will not be signing for Selby Town Football Club. pic.twitter.com/yv6aBrJUnX
— Selby Town FC (@SelbyTown_FC) September 23, 2020
They said: “The recent events surrounding the club have been severely misjudged. Thinking of giving someone like that an opportunity was misplaced and we should have realised that after the first incident. To think about it twice was extremely insensitive. There is not one individual person to blame on this and we should have been aware of the depth of ill feeling the matter would attract.
“We have dragged up horrible memories for individuals and families who suffer from domestic abuse. There is one victim who has suffered more than anyone in this and to her and her family we offer our unreserved apologies. We need to try and offer her some comfort and we will be writing to her privately.
“I want the club to be able to move on from this but I know It is going to take time and for a lot of people, that won’t be possible.
“On a personal level, I will be reaching out to the domestic abuse service companies in the area to try and build a relationship with them and support them in raising awareness of this horrible violence.
“I know words will never be enough but believe me when I say how sorry we are with the upset we have caused so many. We are not trying to make excuses or cover anything up.
“I hope once again Selby Town FC will be able to regain trust and rebuild its standing in the community.”
As mentioned, the fan backlash causes the club to make sudden U-turn in signing the jailed footballer, this is how it was reacted online…
Yes we should, do you think any normal ex-con comes out of prison and into a job that easy and that well paid. I think its disgraceful. Most end up as trolley boys or some other shite career. Not a professional footballer.
— David Friskey (@MrFriskey) September 23, 2020
They haven’t listened to us they probably got threatened by all there sponsors that they’d leave
— TGT02 (@TxmGT02) September 23, 2020
Selby Town actually doubled down on their decision despite the fans uproar, it was only when sponsors started pulling out that they backpeddled, shameful of them
— Jordan Box (@JordanBox8) September 23, 2020
Shouldn’t take the public to kick up a fuss for you to reverse your decision, especially after saying you wouldn’t be signing him🤔 Anyway you got to the right decision in the end👍
— Jason Stevenson (@JasonStevo11) September 23, 2020
Thank you! if only to relieve my embarrassment for being from Selby. You are going to have to seriously put money and hearts into domestic violence charities after this abomination. 🇦🇺
— Pete Lupton (@Rejuven8er) September 23, 2020
Whoever made the decision to trial him and then to sign him needs removing. Utterly shocking. I guess that you’ve likely listened to your sponsor’s withdrawal of funds more than fan feeling, but at least the right conclusion has been reached eventually. Huge dent in your rep tho
— PaulLUFC 🏆 (@PaulLUFC1919) September 23, 2020
Or…..we lost our shirt sponsor and money talks so if they wod have stayed with us we wouldn’t have changed our minds
— Always Skiing 🏆🥇 (@genesisTimM) September 23, 2020
Once could maybe at a push could have been a mistake. Twice then it’s shame on you!
Everyone connected with decision should hand their heads in shame and maybe explain to their wives and daughters why they came to the conclusion taking him on as a player was a good idea. #ycfc
— Y Front (@YfrontFanzine) September 23, 2020
To be brutally honest you shouldn’t have needed the public’s outcry to come to this decision.
As a Footballer you are seen as a role model and it’s a career where horrific crimes like his don’t allow a second chance. I could never understand Lee Hughes and McCormick having one!
— Ryan (@Razza_MOT) September 23, 2020
Whoever made the decision to sign him in the first place should hang their heads in shame.
— Claire (@Clairehenocq) September 23, 2020
What a ludicrous and unnecessary situation you created, twice.
— David Ward (@DavidWardyWard) September 23, 2020
No one will give you plaudits for this. This should not have been a discussion.
— K (@kaydobbo) September 23, 2020