Black Lives Matter row erupts after Newport beat Tranmere

Wales and Republic of Ireland players take the knee
Wales and Republic of Ireland players took the knee ahead of their Nations League game on 11 October in Dublin

A row has erupted after players did not take a knee ahead of Newport County’s 1-0 League Two win against Tranmere Rovers.

Chairman Gavin Foxall says Newport will investigate why it did not happen.

He said that “it’s something that the referee instigates before a game. It’s agreed with the two captains”.

The EFL rejected Foxall’s assertion, saying : “The referee wouldn’t have a role to play. It would usually be for the captains to decide.”

Newport and Tranmere have been asked to comment on the EFL’s response.

Taking a knee or marking the fight against racism has become a common occurrence at football games as well as other sporting occasions.

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales’ Call Rob show, which regularly discusses Welsh and wider football topics, Foxall said he would seek answers on why the teams did not take a knee.

Former Wales striker Nathan Blake, a regular guest on the show, challenged Foxall over the issue.

Foxall said: “As I understand it, it’s something that the referee instigates before a game. It’s agreed with the two captains.

“I don’t know why that wasn’t the case today and as a club we’ll take that away and have that discussion and see why that wasn’t the case.”

“But I would say though as a club yesterday (Friday, 16 October), we supported the wear red day campaign [Show Racism the Red Card] and as you will see from our shirts as well we support the campaign of today or any day.

“Racism doesn’t have any place in society, let alone in football and we as a club are absolutely behind that 100%.

“But we need to see why that didn’t happen as a club and we will have a look at that internally.”

Blake then asked Foxall: “Can I ask you on not taking of the knee – how are you the chairman and not know that, not know why it hasn’t been taken?

“Let me just say this is Newport… it’s probably one of the biggest black populations in Great Britain.

“You have fans here who are black, white, Asian. Don’t you feel accountability and responsibility to those people?

“It’s no good saying to me or saying to the world that the two captains have decided why and it’s not about putting banners up today and forgetting tomorrow.

“It’s either you believe in that and you’re with it or you’re not.”

Foxall replied: “Well as I say, I think as a club racism doesn’t have a place in society let alone in football and as a football club we’re fully behind that.

“I don’t know why that didn’t happen today. As I say there is a protocol for it, which is instigated by the referee with the two captains.

“I don’t know why that hasn’t happened today.

“But as a club and to give the fans an assurance there, you’re exactly right in the city that we live within today, we need to make sure that we’re doing our bit, which is why as I say we’re supporting the wear red campaign.

“We have an equality and inclusion director who looks after this portfolio and I will be going back to understand what happened today and why it happened.

“And we will ensure that we do what we need to do going forward.

“Rest assured this club is fully behind the campaign and we want to live that out and we need to live that out.”

Nathan Blake
Former Wales striker Nathan Blake has become a football pundit since his playing days ended. He challenged Newport chairman Gavin Foxall over events at Rodney Parade

Blake responded: “But one thing you have to do Gav is lead by example.”

Foxall replied: “I wouldn’t disagree with that. If something has fallen over today then we will absolutely put that right.

“I want to find out why that was the case so we can do that in the future.”

QPR and Coventry City did not carry out the gesture in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before their Championship match in September.

Les Ferdinand, QPR’s director of football, later argued the impact of taking a knee had “been diluted”.

The EFL guidance issued to clubs states:

  • It remains the choice of an individual player or players if they wish to ‘take the knee’
  • Having assessed the views of their players, clubs should try to mutually agree an approach ahead of each match (preferably prior to match day)
  • In circumstances where clubs cannot reach an agreement, it is recommended that clubs seek to find a sensible compromise position to try to achieve a consistent approach to matches. For example, clubs may decide that the views of the home team’s players should take precedence at each of the two matches between the clubs this season, thus delivering each set of players’ preferred position at one game
  • Should there be no agreement then individual players will be free to ‘take the knee’
  • Match officials are briefed to facilitate any variation of request(s) and clubs via their captains’ should communicate the approach at the pre-match briefing

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