Arsenal refuse to end fan’s ban despite ombudsman ruling

Mick Doherty and fellow campaigners outside The George pub in Holloway

Mick Doherty and fellow campaigners outside The George pub in Holloway - Credit: Archant

Arsenal have rejected recommendations from English football’s top regulatory body to allow a banned fan to return to the Emirates Stadium next season.

Mick Doherty and Ian Wright

Mick Doherty and Ian Wright - Credit: Archant

Mick Doherty, 48, was barred from all Arsenal football for five years after a “non-football related fight” in November 2012, but the Independent Football Ombudsman advised the club to drop the ban after two years because it deemed it unfair.

The ban was initially a life ban put in place when police highlighted to Arsenal that Mr Doherty, who was caught fighting in Copenhagen in 2001 and picked out by police as potential trouble maker, had pleaded guilty to his part in a fight at the Fonthill Arms in Finsbury Park.

But the ombudsman decided that while the ban was “justifiable”, since the incident was not related to football and took place more than 10 years after his last involvement in football violence, it should end from the beginning of next season.

But Arsenal, who have also banned Mr Doherty from attending charity events at the Emirates which he helps organise as chair of Islington Boxing Club, have refused to reconsider.

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A spokesman for the club, who were also advised to rethink their disciplinary policy and levels of communication, said: “The club welcomes the Independent Football Ombudsman’s finding that the club was justified in imposing a ban in this case.

“In our view, the five year ban is entirely appropriate. It is based on police evidence and advice and nothing has changed in our joint assessment to make us alter our approach.

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“We will review our disciplinary procedures for serious cases of this nature but remain satisfied with the way we communicated in this complex case.”

Mr Doherty, who thought he had won his fight when the IFO’s decision was made, said he would continue his “Justice for the Archway 1” campaign and claimed it was a human rights issue.

“It’s like a brick wall,” he said.

“The club are now choosing to ignore a body appointed by the Football Association. There’s obviously someone with an axe to grind.

“It might even be a human rights issue.”

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