'No more Billy Boys' - Linfield

Published Wednesday, 16 April 2014
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Linfield have told their supporters to not sing the 'Billy Boys' song, or any variations of it or the tune, at any of their games to avoid heavy sanctions on the club and its fans.

'No more Billy Boys' - Linfield
The match between the clubs went ahead. (© Pacemaker)

The warning comes after the club successfully appealed an IFA fine for sectarian chanting from supporters at last year's County Antrim Shield semi-final.

The match at Windsor Park on 29 October almost had to be cancelled after it was marred by a minority of people in the stands who took part in chanting.

Linfield and Cliftonville were each fined £3,000 by the IFA while an additional fine of £250 was imposed on the Reds for "allowing or causing an explosion".

However, the fines were over turned on appeal.

Following a meeting of the Linfield board of directors on Monday the club issued a statement advising its fans of their responsibly during matches.

The board said it was committed to eradicating sectarianism from the local game and thanked the fans for their hard work.

It added: "The board wishes to advise our supporters that all variations of the song popularly known as 'the Billy Boys' and sung to the tune of 'Marching Through Georgia' are now deemed unacceptable and, if aired at Linfield matches, will lead to severe punitive sanctions against the club.

"This will include other songs sung to the same tune, any use of the tune itself, and will also include those versions using words that may not be seen to be inherently sectarian in their nature.

"The IFA's Appeals Board has relied upon the UEFA Appeals decision against Rangers from May 2006 in this regard."

For the avoidance of doubt, the club will also be compelled to take a similar approach to the use of any other song or chant that is undeniably sectarian or offensive in form.

Linfield directors

The statement continued: "Linfield supporters should now be aware that the club must now also hold all variations of this song as unacceptable and any supporter found to be singing this song in any of its forms will be subject to serious sanction including ejection from the ground, a lifetime ban from Linfield matches and being referred to the Police Service of Northern Ireland for prosecution."

In conclusion the club said the IFA's disciplinary process was "not fit for purpose" and more needed to be done to eradicate sectarianism and bigotry from society.

"Local football requires political and state guidance that provides us with the legal support framework to remove this problem from our game," the statement added.

"It is clear that taking much-needed financial resources out of local football by way of fines against clubs is not the way forward.

"It is no meaningful deterrent against the individuals who would perpetrate the actions leading to the fines and it also punishes clubs working with limited resources who already dedicate significant amounts of time and money to supporter education programmes and cross-community projects.

"If clubs are taking every reasonable step open to them under the current law to moderate and change supporter behaviour, then it must surely be unfair to be sanctioned by our own football association on the basis that we are held to be responsible for the behaviour of every individual supporter in the ground.

"The IFA must look at an alternative disciplinary code which will take a more constructive approach to helping clubs in this area."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
26 Comments
Isabel in Belfast wrote (223 days ago):
Dee in Newtownabbey just type in your computer Cliftonville and celtic chants and that puts a hole in your argument.
Paul in Belfast wrote (223 days ago):
Does Dee in Newtownabbey really expect us to believe a section of Cliftonville or Celtic fans have never engaged in sectarian singing or chants ?
David in Belfast wrote (223 days ago):
@ Dee In Newtownabbey - does this sound familar? A chant sung by Cliftonville fans about David Jeffrey who is/ was manager of Linfield. Cheer up David Jeffreys oh what can it be to a sad orange b******d and a s**t football team That took about 30 sec on the internet, I am not a fan of either team or Irish League football but this insistence that only one team is sectarian is a joke.
me in larne wrote (223 days ago):
So Dee the singing of sectarian songs at cliftonville as reported on this site on Nov 12 during the mins silence did not happen even know footage was shown ?? And in 2011 for singing pro ira songs against Rennes or the 2013 50000 Euro fine for displaying its pro ira banners against Milan or the 2008 and 2010 poppy protests did not happen at Celtic ???
Danny Boy in East Belfast wrote (223 days ago):
Dee in Newtownabbey, what planet are you living on fella. I could name you a dozen or more songs that cliftonville fans sing to us Blues fans that are offensive. Heres 2 to start off with. If you hate the orange B-------S CLAP YOUR HANDS. Then we have the old classic, "Boys from the Old Brigade". Get your head out of the sand.
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