With Kick It Out lambasting authorities for "failing" clubs like Padiham FC and the Lancashire FA demurring in their reasoning for fining the Storks after they walked off the pitch when goalkeeper Tony Aghayere was allegedly racially abused, the matter of racism in football has caused a public outcry.
From attacking the FA for their supposedly hypocritical protocol which has resulted in Padiham fined more for their manager Liam Smith taking a stand than their opponents for the alleged abuse itself, to supporting anti-racist protests but disagreeing with actually walking off the pitch, plenty of people have waded in with their takes on the matter.
And with the issues exploding onto an international stage last month when England internationals Danny Rose, Raheem Sterling, and Callum Hudson-Odoi were subjected to racist chanting by Montenegrin fans during a 5-1 Euro 2020 qualifying win in Podgorica and when 19-year-old Juventus striker Moise Kean had monkey chants directed at him during Serie A away match against Serie A, football appears to be at a crossroads.
Covering the story in The Guardian, sportswriter Barney Ronay tweeted: "Pretty shocking story. Walk off the pitch when your goalkeeper is racially abused and you'll be fined. So wrong in so many ways," to which Times journalist Gabrielle Marcotti responded: "Fining them £5 more than the team whose fans dish the abuse is, at best, tone-deaf. At worst, you'd almost wonder if they're trying to send a message..."
Other comments on social media ranged from "shocking stuff from the FA" and "How is this right? Racism shouldn't be tolerated at all, yet @Padiham_FC get fined more than @CongletonFC for an incident of racism," to "Well done Liam Smith, enough is enough now, it’s time ALL managers in ALL leagues followed Liam’s example. It’s 2019 not 1975."
Liam, who gave his side of the story to the Burnley Express earlier in the week, has been widely praised, with one social media user tweeting: "@Liam_Smith16 I doff my cap to you for your leadership. Hopefully if this situation arises again you wont hesitate to do the exact same. No wonder Danny Rose said he can't wait to see the back of football due to racism."
Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling, who has been on the receiving end of racial abuse on numerous occasions this season, has said that he personally would not leave the pitch due to a desire to fight back against those making such heinous comments - a stance supported by one tweeter, who said: "I agree that we have to take a stance against racism and it needs to stop. But I don't think walking off the pitch is the answer. What's to stop a team being 3-0 down so some k*******s decide they're gonna racially abuse someone so the players."
With countless surveys and data sets revealing that that rate of incidents of racial abuse has increased since the Brexit vote, famed Remain voter, Clarets fans, and Labour spin-doctor Alastair Campbell also tweeted about the story, saying: "Oh my God! Fined for having principles and showing leadership. At a time racism is crawling back into football at all levels (‘nothing to do with Brexit’ say Brextremists) Padiham should be applauded not fined."
Not everyone have been in support, however, with some saying that "a club has a duty of care to its players. When they carry out that they are penalised. There is no defence to this decision," and others offering a tersely simplistic take on events, saying: "I am sorry but rules R (sic) rules."
How football proceeds from here could define its manufactured reputation as a sport which professes a no-tolerance approach to racism. Stumble, and fans' suspicions that authorities are all talk and no action will be sadly confirmed.