Fans have been banned from going to Bury Football Club's Gigg Lane stadium for two matches after "discriminatory" language and behaviour was reportedly used at a match this season.

The club says it has been told by the Manchester FA that it will have to play its next two home games behind closed doors following comments made by two supporters at their home game against West Didsbury and Chorlton in September. 

The Shakers have labelled the decision "excessive", arguing that excluding well-behaved supporters does "nothing to promote inclusion".

However, the club has said it will appeal the decision due to the "huge strides" it has taken to promote inclusivity. 

The club, which has also been fined £350, says it will play in front of supporters during the appeal process. 

Manchester FA released a statement today, Thursday, which said: "Bury FC has been issued with a two-match full stadium closure and £350 fine following misconduct of its supporters during the North West Counties Premier Division fixture against West Didsbury and Chorlton FC on September 2, 2023.
"The club admitted that it failed to ensure its supporters conducted themselves in an orderly fashion, and failed to ensure they did not use improper, offensive, violent, threatening, abusive, indecent, insulting and provocative language.

"The club also admitted that the language and behaviour was discriminatory in that it referred to race, disability, and sexual orientation.
"An independent FA disciplinary commission imposed the sanctions, taking into consideration numerous serious misconduct findings relating to Bury FC supporters in recent seasons.
"The written reasons for this case can be found HERE.

"The club maintains the right to appeal."

In response to the punishment, a club statement said in a statement: "Bury Football Club has been informed by Manchester FA that an independent committee has decided that due to the offensive comments made by two supporters during our game against West Didsbury and Chorlton in September, we should be forced to play our next two home games behind closed doors.

"We reported the incident at the time, and provided video and other evidence to the police to assist their enquiries at some considerable cost to the club. We have not disputed the claims made.

"The individuals have not yet had their case heard by the law enforcement authorities and have been prevented from entering the stadium indefinitely while we await the outcome.

"Our grounds for appeal are limited. We have accepted the facts of the incident, and do not believe that we acted in a way which was anything other than responsible and measured." 

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It added: "We accept that the two individuals involved could have been removed from the stadium immediately but the stewards took a view at the time to stop any further problems and review the situation afterwards.

"We paid additional money to a CCTV specialist to review footage and provided this to the police.

"Our stewarding costs are £3-4,000 per game, it is not something we take lightly.

"The basis of our appeal is that the punishment is excessive. We have seen multiple incidents over recent years of groups of supporters collectively issuing racist, misogynistic and homophobic abuse, as well as tragedy chanting.

"These have gone unpunished or have been dealt with by fines. We acted on the day. We are unable to completely control the words of two people in a crowd of 3,838 on that particular occasion. 

"We accept there should be a punishment, but excluding every well-behaved football supporter from a stadium which has already excluded those who perpetrated the offences, does nothing to promote inclusion.

"The loss of revenue is extremely damaging and our belief is that it would be far better to use that revenue to fund a campaign intended to positively promote diversity and inclusion. Football needs to change, this would help make that change.

"A stadium closure throws this opportunity away and is likely to ignite a more divisive and polarised debate on these important issues.

"We have taken huge strides to actively promote diversity and inclusion since forming the club and have raised money and awareness throughout the borough through the hard work of our volunteers, many of whom will be deeply dismayed by this judgement as it punishes them despite their efforts." 

It added: "For this reason we intend to appeal. It is not because we are in any way dismissive of the issues involved. The appeal process will take a number of weeks and we will continue to play in front of supporters during this period, and we will keep supporters updated as to any progress made as it happens.

"We are also concerned that this specific judgment has been published publicly while matters are still being considered by the relevant law enforcement authorities."