• Premier League

Premier League clubs frustrated over laces campaign

ESPN staff
September 20, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Joey Barton wore the rainbow laces during QPR's game against Brighton on Wednesday © PA Photos
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Premier League clubs have voiced frustration with gay rights charity Stonewall, blaming it for launching a rainbow laces initiative against homophobia in the game without consulting them.

Stonewall, in conjunction with a betting company, has sent the laces to all professional clubs in England and Scotland and hopes players will wear them as part of the Right Behind Gay Footballers campaign.

But one Premier League club told Press Association Sport that it believed the message was being lost amid guerilla marketing.

Another club claimed security officials had to be called after campaigners broke into their training ground and attempted to unfurl a flag.

Both Manchester United and Tottenham have said they will not take part in the rainbow laces initiative, as have Sunderland, Norwich and Southampton.

A statement from Tottenham read: "Whilst the campaign message is positive and one we support, there was unfortunately no prior consultation with ourselves, the Premier League or other clubs.

"Such consultation would have enabled us to avoid issues in respect of associated third-party commercial entities.

"We have contacted Stonewall directly and let them know that we are supportive and keen to discuss ways in which we can work together going forward."

QPR midfielder Joey Barton has spoken out in favour of the campaign and wore the laces during his team's match against Brighton on Wednesday.

And although Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale confirmed on Twitter that he planned to wear them, his club voiced frustration at how the campaign had been handled.

"The players have been given the opportunity to wear the laces, entirely at their discretion," a Fulham statement said.

"The underlying message behind this campaign is a good one, and we work hard to ensure the whole equalities agenda is something we are engaged in.

"This campaign was initiated without consultation with clubs or the League. Had we been involved earlier in the process we could have worked with Stonewall to consider it more carefully."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will also allow his players to wear the laces in this weekend's clash with Stoke, and said: "I am personally against it [homophobia]. For me, that is linked with racism. Every single week, you could find a reason to fight against it.

"It's a kind of racism and that should all be included in the fight against racism. In our club, everybody is free to have his own opinion of these kind of things."

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