Calls for Burnley football club to rename stand dedicated to 'antisemite' owner

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


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 are facing calls to rename a stand dedicated to a former chairman who caused outrage with a vile 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 month - 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.”

At a Board of Deputies meeting last month, 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?”

The club have since told the JC they have launched a probe into the matter. It is understood the investigation includes a mix of internal and external personnel, key stakeholders and governing bodies, both past and present.

But some fans questioned whether the stand should be renamed.

Author and lifelong Burnley supporter Blake Morrison said: “Bob Lord was a difficult and often offensive figure. Some people walked out of that dinner when he made his antisemitic remarks. He also behaved intemperately towards journalists, banning them from the ground if he disapproved of what they'd written.

"And he was obsessed with the damage (as he saw it) that televising football did to the game. He also contributed a great deal to Burnley FC, much of it good, and it's natural that the club would want to acknowledge that, if only by keeping a stand in his name (I think it was his idea to name it after himself). 

“So...a dilemma. 

“If we banish the dead (or anything associated with them) because they expressed views we find objectionable, significant parts of our national landscape would disappear. I can see the case for Burnley to re-name the stand. But I'd be more inclined to take the approach of the National Trust, for example, who rather than closing down historic houses that were built or developed by slave-owners, racists or colonialists, keep those properties open but make clear in their literature or guidebooks that those men (and they were almost always men) behaved or spoke in ways that are odious by the standards of today. Bob Lord the butcher's boy certainly held some odious views. And if Burnley keep the stand in his name, they should make it clear that they disapprove of some of what he did and said.

A spokesperson for Burnley Football Club Supporters Group said: “What Lord said was unpleasant, but it was one incident He was rightly condemned at the time.

“It was so long ago that many of our supporters don't even remember Bob Lord who passed away in 1981.”

Mr Lord was known as “the Khrushchev of Burnley" because of the belligerent fashion in which he ran the club.

He is said to have been the inspiration for Timothy West’s portrayal of northern magnate Bradley Hardacre in Eighties TV sitcom Brass.

Burnley FC said: “Antisemitism continues to be a problem in the UK and in our society. Antisemitism must be understood for what it is – an attack on the identity of people who live, contribute, and are valued in our society.

“Ongoing discussion concerning Bob Lord remain under review by Burnley Football Club, The Football Association, Kick it Out and other authorities and personnel.

“It is extremely important to Burnley Football Club to keep an open dialogue with the local and wider Jewish community, and we urge anyone who has experienced or been impacted by antisemitism in football to report it directly to Kick it Out using their online reporting form or via the dedicated Kick it Out reporting app.”

Anti-racism campaigners Kick It Out said: "Burnley FC are running an internal investigation around Bob Lord so I think until they’ve done their due diligence, met with key stakeholders, and gathered all relevant information, we wouldn’t be able to comment further.”

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