Lancashire Police have said that no criminal offence has been committed following the flying of a banner reading “White Lives Matter Burnley” towed by an aircraft during Monday night’s Premier League game between Manchester City and Burnley.
But Police have said that the incident “caused offence to many people in Lancashire and beyond.” The stunt was blamed on members of a group of football hooligans connected with Burnley FC.
The force concluded “that there are no criminal offences that have been disclosed at this time”.
Ch Supt Russ Procter added: “We will continue to work with our partners at the football club and within the local authority.”
The force had been in liaison with Greater Manchester police, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Crown Prosecution Service.
The banner was flown above the Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium during Monday’s Premier League fixture with Burnley.
The incident happened shortly after kick off, and after players, managers and support staff from both sides had taken the knee in support of racial equality. The Cessna aircraft, bearing the registration G-ENEA, is last recorded as being registered to Air Ads Ltd, based out of Hangar 8 at Blackpool Airport. Blackpool Airport issued a statement to say it had suspended all banner towing operations.
Footballers in the Premier League have been showing their support for Black Lives Matter following the death of George Floyd, the 46-year-old black American, who died after a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes in the USA on May 25.
Decision taken without knowledge of Blackpool Airport
Airport manager Stephen Smith said the operator had launched its own investigation into the incident: “Blackpool Airport and Blackpool Council are outraged by this incident. We stand against racism of any kind and absolutely do not condone the activity, the message was offensive and the action reprehensible. The decision to fly the banner was taken entirely by the banner flying company without the knowledge or approval of the airport or Blackpool Council.”
“Due to the nature of the activity, banners are not checked before take-off and the content is at the operator’s discretion.”
“Ashamed and embarrassed” – Burnley FC captain, Ben Mee
After his team went 5-0 down to City, Burnley captain Ben Mee said he was “ashamed” and “embarrassed” by the incident, which was also condemned by City boss Pep Guardiola.
In a statement released during half-time, Burnley FC said: “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.”
“Those responsible are not welcome at Turf Moor”
“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 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.”
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