olchester United owner Robbie Cowling has told fans who boo players taking the knee that they are not welcome at the club.
The U’s beat Grimsby 2-1 in League Two on Saturday as they welcomed fans back into the stadium, but the occasion was marred by the actions of a group of supporters who voiced their opposition to the gesture, done in support of racial equality in society.
Cowling has encouraged Colchester fans to applaud the gesture going forward and offered to refund any season-ticket holder who no longer feels welcome to attend the games because of the booing.
In a statement, Cowling said: “Those that take the knee want to highlight that all lives should be valued and should not be treated inhumanely or inferior to others just because of their race.
“It is undeniable that black and other ethnic minority people are still the victims of racism, and the black footballers and staff at Colchester United feel that they are in a position of privilege that has been fought for through the blood and sweat of their ancestors.
“A position that in 2020 the average black person is still not afforded.
“Those taking the knee, and supporting the taking of the knee, not only shows their willingness to support the drive to eradicate racial oppression but force it to be a talking point even when it’s uncomfortable.
“Undeniably, taking the knee is a fundamental catalyst in pushing the conversation and thus the necessary changes forward.
“I’m sure the vast majority of Colchester United fans are supportive and want to play their part in showing they back the actions of our players.
“Maybe those that booed on Saturday might now understand what this gesture means to our club and will at the very least remain silent during future games whilst the players continue to take the knee before each kick-off.
“Alternatively, they should just stay away from our club because anyone that still wants to boo now that I have explained the purpose and importance of the taking of the knee is not welcome at our club.
“I will be happy to refund anyone for the remaining value of their season permit if that is the reason they feel they can no longer attend our games.
“It would be very disappointing if anyone does decide to boo again. Therefore, going forward I would like to make the actions of those fans who do boo the taking of the knee completely irrelevant.
“For every game where the players choose to take the knee, I would like all of our fans to join me in applauding this gesture to ensure our players know we fully support them.”
Millwall were on Monday meeting with Kick It Out – football’s anti-discrimination body – to discuss tackling the issue.