Youth football club fined £3,000 after father of player accused them ’emotional abuse and ‘racism’

A youth football club has been ordered to pay £3,000 compensation to the family of a 10-year-old player after it complained about him being substituted.

The boy’s father accused Winnersh Rangers, which is based in Wokingham, Berkshire of ’emotional abuse’ and ‘racism’ when it took him off the pitch during a pre-season football tournament in summer 2018.    

The club claims his father then brought his son back to training at the beginning of the new season, before suddenly removing him from the team in September and making the accusations.

Winnersh Rangers has been fined £3,000 after the father of a 10-year-old player accused it of 'emotional abuse' and 'racism' by substituting him. Players from the team are pictured in a huddle

Winnersh Rangers has been fined £3,000 after the father of a 10-year-old player accused it of 'emotional abuse' and 'racism' by substituting him. Players from the team are pictured in a huddle

Winnersh Rangers has been fined £3,000 after the father of a 10-year-old player accused it of ’emotional abuse’ and ‘racism’ by substituting him. Players from the team are pictured in a huddle

The club denies the claims made by the father and said it did not attend the county court hearing where it was given the fine because it didn’t know about it. 

It said it conducted two investigations alongside Berkshire FA, which cleared it of any offences.  

Phil Chick, a manager of an Under 10’s football team at the club, said: ‘The player in question played with us for about two seasons.

‘The most important thing for us as a club is the children, we want them to enjoy playing football.

‘If they are a good player that is purely a bonus for us.

‘Last summer the Under 10’s teams played in a pre-season tournament and the manager substituted this particular player.

‘His father didn’t take well to the decision, but substitutions are just a part of the game and the manager wanted to give everyone a fair chance and even playing time.

‘The parent then brought the player back to the club at the start of the new season in September but quickly removed him and asked to be refunded for his signing-on-fee, which of course we refunded.

‘We were told he contacted Wokingham Borough Council’s child protection scheme and accused the substitution of being emotional abuse and racism.

‘We didn’t hear anything else for a few months but then we received a letter from Reading County Court saying we had missed a hearing and had been fined £3,000.’   

The club denies the claims made by the father and said it did not attend the county court hearing where it was given the fine because it didn't know about it. The club's secretary Phil Chick is pictured

The club denies the claims made by the father and said it did not attend the county court hearing where it was given the fine because it didn't know about it. The club's secretary Phil Chick is pictured

The club denies the claims made by the father and said it did not attend the county court hearing where it was given the fine because it didn’t know about it. The club’s secretary Phil Chick is pictured

The club said it conducted two investigations alongside Berkshire FA, which cleared it of any offences. It plays its games at Winnersh Community Centre, pictured

The club said it conducted two investigations alongside Berkshire FA, which cleared it of any offences. It plays its games at Winnersh Community Centre, pictured

The club said it conducted two investigations alongside Berkshire FA, which cleared it of any offences. It plays its games at Winnersh Community Centre, pictured

Mr Chick, who is also the club secretary, added the club were ‘disappointed’ to lose the player, adding ‘the boy’s father had initially reported the club to the local council’s child protection department’.

Directors at the club say they were stunned when they received a letter to inform them of the fine after being found guilty at the court.  

Mr Chick said: ‘Losing thousands of pounds is a big hit for a local club like ours.

‘I’m confident we can challenge the ruling in court and get our money back.

‘So far we haven’t seen any documentation so we don’t know the full facts of the allegations.

‘All we know is that the parent has accused the club of emotional abuse and racism against his son.

‘It’s a shame because it feels like the child has been forgotten in all of this, he can no longer play football for his local team because of this.’

The club will challenge the ruling at Reading County Court on May 2.

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