Over-zealous security guards barred a retired firefighter from entering a football ground with his newspaper – branding it an offensive weapon.
West Ham fan Chris Barmby, 57, was stunned when officials ordered him to bin his paper, claiming he might set it on fire and start a riot.
Two burley security guards at Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium blocked Chris’s way into the ground last Saturday – despite allowing fans carrying programmes to enter.
The lifelong football fan yesterday branded the club’s actions “ridiculous”.
Chris, from Claines, Worcs., fumed: “It was absolutely ridiculous, what is stopping someone setting light to a club programme?
“I’ve been following football for years and years and go to a lot of home games and as many away games as I can and I have never heard anything so ridiculous.
“The worst thing was I hadn’t even read it.
“I always take a copy of the Worcester News with me to read on the train but we end up having a bit of banter and I stick it in my back pocket to read later.
“I told them I hadn’t read it but they said to stick it behind the fence and pick it up on the way back. I left the grounds out of another gate so I didn’t even get it back.
“One of the security guards said a newspaper was classed as an offensive weapon. I thought he was joking at first.
“When he said the paper could be used to start a fire I laughed because I was in the fire service for years and spent my life putting out fires but he wouldn’t listen.”
Bryan Shaw, chairman of Stoke City Supporters Club, said it was the first time he had heard of someone having a newspaper taken from them at the grounds.
He added: “I can’t contradict what they have said and I haven’t seen the new guidelines but it is unusual.
“The only thing I can think of is that there has been tension between the fans during the last couple of visits with West Ham fans trying to get to the other supporters.”
No one at Stoke City FC was available for comment. On the club’s website the list of banned items does not include newspapers.
However, it does state that any article that might be used as a weapon and/or compromise public safety would not be allowed into the grounds.