Burnley FC decides not to rename stand dedicated to 'antisemite' former owner

After what the club described as a six-month probe, it has decided to adopt the IHRA definition, but not rename the Bob Lord stand


BURNLEY, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: General view inside the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Leicester City at Turf Moor on January 19, 2020 in Burnley, United Kingdom. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Burnley Football Club has revealed it will not be changing the name of a stand named after a former chairman who caused outrage with an antisemitic outburst.

The Bob Lord Stand is named after the local businessman who ran a chain of butchers and died in 1981.

In 1974, speaking at a Variety Club dinner, he said: “We have to stand up against a move to get soccer on the cheap by the Jews who run TV.”

The remarks by the former owner of the Lancashire club -- relegated from the Premier League last season -- caused fury. Many guests at the dinner walked out.

Bryan Cowgill, head of BBC Television Sport, and his independent television counterpart, Bill Ward, sent a joint telegram of protest to Sir Andrew Stephen, chairman of the Football Association, and Len Shipman, president of the Football League, urging them to repudiate the “abhorrent and obscene” remarks as “not being in the interests of football or honourable behaviour”.

Mr Lord said later: “If I have hurt anybody’s feelings. I apologise.”

The row was reopened earlier this summer at a Board of Deputies meeting when Keith Appleby, deputy for St Albans United Synagogue, said: “Burnley football club have a stand named after a past owner Bob Lord who was openly antisemitic. In these days of ‘zero tolerance’ can anything be done to encourage the club to change the name of the stand?”

Burnley FC responded to Mr Appleby’s charge, saying it had already launched a review of Mr Lord’s historic comments and whether or not it remained appropriate for the businessman to have a stand named after him.

Now, after what the club described as a six-month investigation, a Burnley FC spokesperson said it had made the decision to take “no further action” and the name of the Bob Lord Stand will not be changed.

Mr Appleby told the JC he was “pleased” the club had conducted a review, adding: “It is a positive development that the club has been made aware of people’s feelings on this matter, but it’s their decision ultimately and I accept it.”

In a statement, the club said: “Following on from a six-month investigation which entailed recovering historical information relating to Bob Lord and consultation with Jewish representatives and advisors, including calls for Jewish communities and supporters to contact the club, Burnley Football Club can confirm there will be no further action on the request for a name change associated to the Bob Lord Stand which opened in 1974.”

The club added it was committed to “tackling all forms of discrimination, both on and off the pitch” and has now “officially adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IRHA) working definition of antisemitism”.

“This definition will now continue to be incorporated in all current and future club training, policies and reviews including our ‘supporters code of conduct’, matchday steward training and Academy player education.”

The club’s current chairman, Alan Pace, said: "Burnley Football Club continues to take a proactive stance against all forms of discrimination and hate crime. Adopting the IHRA definition in full is an important step going forwards and ultimately provides clarity across football on the language and actions of staff, players, supporters, and everyone associated with the game.

“As a custodian of Burnley Football Club, I strongly believe everyone should feel safe and welcome, whether watching or attending a football game.”

Gurpri Bains, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Lead for Burnley FC added: “As a club, we are committed to being proactive in our work around EDI, by continually listening to our supporters, providing training and education for our staff, and putting inclusivity at the heart of everything we do. We will continue to work with Kick It Out, the Holocaust Education Trust and Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester & Region to ensure we address any issues around antisemitism and other forms of discrimination, so that our club is inviting to all.”

The club added that the government’s advisor on antisemitism, Lord Mann, who is also a Kick it Out ambassador, recently delivered antisemitism training to its staff.

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism praised Burnley for addressing the issue, saying: "While recognising the antisemitism of the past is important, tackling it in the present and deterring it in the future are most important.

“By taking the time to engage with Jewish communal stakeholders to understand their concerns in the here and now, and adopting the International Definition of Antisemitism so that future racism towards Jewish people can be identified and addressed, Burnley has put itself on the right course. Other clubs should follow suit and adopt the Definition and be seen to apply it when antisemitic incidents arise.”

READ MORE: Two men arrested after Burnley fans perform nazi salute at Tottenham game

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