The seven fans of Truro City Football Club (TCFC) received interim bans from the ground at Treyew Road after setting off smoke sticks during an away game at Dunstable Town on November 22, after which one supporter burst into the boardroom shouting abuse.
Yesterday, the end date of the interim ban period, the fan group finally spoke out, saying it had refrained from commenting while the Football Association investigated the matter because to avoid interfering with the final sanctions.
In a statement published on the Truro Independent Supporters Association (TISA) website, secretary Simon Birch said: “We were shocked at the extent to which TCFC chairman Peter Masters has been prepared to continually give misleading accounts of the events in question…to sensationalise and misrepresent the actions of those involved.
“We now find that the original club banning orders have been extended without any of the banned being given sight of the FA Report on which the bans were apparently based, nor having any opportunity to appeal.”
TCFC has banned three of the supporters from Treyew Road until the end of the current season; two have been excluded until May 2016 and a further two fans received banning orders from the ground until May 2017, said TISA.
In November Mr Masters said the “sickening” actions of the fans had “bought shame” on the club.
In Mr Birch’s statement he admitted that the two smoke sticks set off by the fans were “illegal to use except in an emergency” but added: “Their use on the day put nobody in any danger and if anyone was uncomfortable with the smoke they could simply have just walked away from the area.”
In November Mr Masters said he had to eject one of the fans from the boardroom of the host team’s ground after he burst in and “issued a barrage of abuse” to everybody inside.
In the fan’s defence, Mr Birch said: “Although confrontational, there was no foul or abusive language used,” adding and that the fan was “annoyed” after Mr Masters ordered the players to snub its own supporters at the end of the game due to the smoke stick incident.
Mr Birch admitted that the fans had “overstepped the mark” and that TISA “regretted” the disturbances, for which it had sent a written apology to the club, but it did not expect such “draconian” sanctions considering the support they had given the club, which included travelling almost 500 miles to league away games and contributing annually to charities.
Mr Birch said: “Regretfully, what was a healthy relationship between fans and owner has now deteriorated due to the draconian measures enforced.”
A statement issued by Peter Masters this week said: “The purpose of the interim ban was to give those involved time to reflect on what had happened and to make any representation along with other interested parties to ensure that this unacceptable behaviour is never repeated.
“No apologies have been received.
“The incident challenged the very ethos of Truro City Football Club and therefore the perpetrators must expect a severe penalty.
“We were left with no option other than to extend the length of each of the current bans. They will also not be allowed at Treyew Road or a Truro City home match until they have signed an acceptable behaviour contract.”
He also said other clubs will be made aware of the bans and any further incidents will result in a lifetime ban.
He added that “a substantial amount of representations have been received from supporters of all ages along with people who are not supporters of Truro City Football Club but are concerned at the adverse publicity brought about by this incident that has without doubt brought shame on football, TCFC, City of Truro and … the county of Cornwall as a whole”.