More alleged hate crimes by Burnley fans were reported in the last two seasons than by supporters of any other club in England or Wales, figures reveal,
Following a recent rise in reported racist and discriminatory abuse at football matches across the two countries, the National Police Chiefs' Council says the “abhorrent behaviour” is a re-emerging problem in the game.
Home Office data revealed that Burnley fans were responsible for the most reports, while 19 clubs had no incidents flagged during the two seasons.
Burnkey Football Club chiefs have said that the club encourages its supporters to report any instances, a possible explanation behind the figures.
A club spokesman said: "Burnley is aware of the figure highlighted in the data and believes the number of instances reported reflects the club’s pro-active stance on such issues.
“As a club we operate a zero-tolerance policy towards any form of discrimination at Turf Moor and among our supporters at away matches.
“We actively encourage our supporters to report any relevant incidents, including those suspected from our own fans, which we believe is reflected by the number of reports made.
“Going back to 2016 we supported our former player, Andre Gray, who criticised two Burnley supporters for allegedly using racist comments in a match at Bradford.
“We will continue to encourage supporters to report alleged hate crimes and subsequently take the appropriate action as part of our ongoing commitment to making Turf Moor an all-inclusive place to watch football.”
Home Office data shows that supporters of the club were reported for 12 hate crime-related incidents during the 2018-19 season. This was up on five during the previous season.
Race-related incidents were reported at Burnley on 15 occasions across the two seasons, making it the most common type of reported hate crime. There were also two sexual orientation-related incidents.
The data, obtained by the PA news agency via a request under the Freedom of Information Act, does not specify whether the reports were made by opposition supporters or fans of the team reported. It covers matches in England and Wales in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 campaigns.
Home Office data published in September showed that hate crime incidents were reported at 193 matches across England and Wales in the 2018-19 season – up from 131 the previous year.
But the government department said that some of the increase was likely to be due to improvements in recording.
Alleged race hate crimes accounted for 79% of matches in which a report was made.
Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the NPCC’s football policing lead, said: "Racism at football is a re-emerging problem, although I don't think it's ever truly gone away.
"It was controlled for a while and became socially unacceptable, but it is a real concern we have seen it creep back with such regularity into the national game.
"With reduced levels of policing on the ground, those committing this abhorrent behaviour do not have the immediate sanction of a police officer arresting them.”
Kick It Out, which campaigns for equality and inclusion in the game, said the rise in discrimination in football is a challenge for all clubs at all levels across the country, adding: “To this extent, football mirrors society."
It said methods for reporting abusive behaviour at football matches were improving, which could explain a rise in the figures.
It added: “We encourage clubs to continue building on the good work they have already done in creating effective reporting mechanisms.”