Millwall receive a warning from the FA over ‘offensive’ chants heard from their supporters in the game against Wigan earlier this year.
The Football Association said that it will impose “a very significant financial penalty” on the Championship club should there be any further cases of discriminatory abuse by their fans.
A disciplinary panel put in place an action plan on Millwall after they admitted three counts of abuse with “express or implied reference to religion”.
The charges followed chants aimed towards Wigan’s James McClean during the 8th, 12th and 45th minute of the game back in April.
The action plan – which will be in place until the end of the 2024/25 season – includes making supporters aware of the charge and that the chants were offensive and constituted a criminal offence.
Millwall are required to look into their stewarding to “ensure that the prevention and detection of any discriminatory or inappropriate behaviour is sufficiently addressed, and is readily available for inspection by the Football Authorities and the appropriate Safety Advisory Group”.
Millwall have also been made to send two stewards to away games deemed ‘high risk’ while warned about their future conduct.
The FA add that the club need to evaluate their CCTV and public address messages as well as work with bodies such as Kick It Out to promote its anti-discrimination policies.
Club statement: FA action plan following breach of rule E21.
Find the full written reasons for the sanction, which includes information on #Millwall’s work before, during, and after The Lions’ Championship fixture away to Wigan Athletic on Saturday 22nd April 2023, here.
— Millwall FC (@MillwallFC) October 16, 2023
Millwall Football Club acknowledges the decision of an independent commission to impose upon it an action plan following a breach of FA rule E21 following The Lions’ Championship fixture away to Wigan Athletic on Saturday 22nd April 2023.
The full written reasons for the sanction, which includes information on Millwall’s work before, during, and after the fixture, can be viewed here.
The club is pleased that its extensive due diligence and mitigation processes have been recognised by both The FA and the Commission throughout this process.
The club strongly condemns discrimination of all kinds and has a zero-tolerance policy against such abuse.
Through the work of its industry-leading Equality Steering Committee, the club takes a very proactive approach to combatting discrimination and continues to work tirelessly on a wide range of initiatives and measures to help continue driving positive change.
You can read a detailed overview of Millwall’s anti-discrimination work by clicking here.
The relevant facts as to these charges are :
i. The relevant match was a fixture between Wigan and Millwall played at The DW Stadium (Wigan’s home stadium) on 22nd April 2023 ;
ii. On 24th April 2023, Wigan Club Secretary (Sarah Guilfoyle) contacted The FA On-Field Department reporting mass discriminatory chanting from Millwall supporters during the match aimed at the Wigan player James McClean (who was playing in the match)
iii. On 24th April 2023, Jack Gillett (On-Field Football Regulation Officer, The FA) reviewed match footage in order to investigate whether discriminatory chanting had occurred ;
iv. Discriminatory chanting from Millwall supporters was detected on three separate occasions, namely the 8th, 12th and 45th minutes of the match ;
v. In the 8th minute of the match, whilst the camera zooms in on Wigan manager Shaun Maloney, Millwall supporters chant en masse “fuck the pope and the IRA”. This is followed by en masse chants of “I bought a flute for 50 pence, the only thing that I could play was fuck the pope and the IRA”. This chant repeats once more in the clip ;
vi. In about the 12th minute of the match, Wigan were preparing to take an attacking free kick. As James McClean (Wigan’s number 11) walks back to prepare to take the free kick, Millwall supporters chant en masse “the only thing that I could play was fuck the pope and the IRA”. This continues for the duration of the clip ;
vii. In the 45th minute of the match, whilst the camera zooms in on Wigan supporters and the Wigan Manager (Shaun Maloney), Millwall supporters en masse chant ‘”the only tune that I could play was fuck the pope and the IRA”
In addition to the above written evidence, the Commission viewed three pieces of video footage (with audio) that depicted the relevant events :
i. 1 minute 7 seconds of footage from the 8th minute of the match ;
ii. 35 seconds of footage from the 12th minute of the match ;
iii. 16 seconds of footage from the 45h minute of the match.
In that video footage, the offensive chanting is clearly audible and involves a very substantial number of Millwall supporters chanting the phrases complained of.
The volume of the chanting leads to the inevitable conclusion that :
i. a very considerable number of Millwall supporters engaged in the religious discriminatory chanting ;
ii. the chanting was not a brief event but was sustained on each occasion ;
iii. the chanting was repeated during these three periods of the match ;
iv. the chanting was directed at James McClean (an Irish footballer).