How we use Cookies

French footie fan gets red card

A SOCCER fan was stunned when he was shown the red card at an Accrington pub... for being French.

RED card: Jessy parades the French flag outside the Regency.
RED card: Jessy parades the French flag outside the Regency.

A SOCCER fan was stunned when he was shown the red card at an Accrington pub... for being French.

Teenager Jessy Aerts, 19, was with a group of England supporters when he was refused entry to the Regency Bar in Church Street during the big Euro 2004 game on Sunday.

His furious pals, who walked out of the pub in disgust, have now blown the whistle on the incident, which they claim was totally against the spirit of the international festival of football.

Jessy, who hails from Lille, had watched the first half of the England-France game in nearby Bailey's with his group of 10 friends without any trouble.

But when he tried to get in the Regency he was met with a resounding "non".

His friends say he was singled out as he had the French flag painted on his arm. Another member of the group was also French but he was allowed in.

Jessy, who has lived in Accrington for three months and works at the Arcade Bar, said: "I felt really bad. It was very upsetting and humiliating for me but my friends came out and said if I was not allowed in they would not stay."

He insists the group were not drunk or rowdy but simply wanted to enjoy the match. He added: "Because it is a football match, everything is different. It is ridiculous to say there could be trouble in the pub because I am French. It is racist."

Pal Rory Birbeck, who runs a gym at Hyndburn Sports Centre and also works as a pub doorman in the town centre, said: "When we asked the manageress why Jessy could not come in, she just said she did not want to discuss it any further."

"If England had been playing Italy, would she have banned staff from Papa Luigis? Or what about if we had been playing Pakistan at cricket? The race relations people would have been on to it like a shot."

"Another of our group was just as French but because he did not have a two-inch-by three-inch tricolor on his arm he was completely overlooked."

"It was a bad night for the England footballers and a bad night for European public relations in Accrington."

Another friend, Darren Hitchen, also a pub doorman, said: "It is bang out of order. Most people know Jessy and he is well-respected around town. We are all shocked by what happened."

But unrepentant Regency manageress Helen Jury said: "Some people came into our pub and said there were some French fans mouthing off in Bailey's across the street. We did not want any trouble in our bar so we told them they couldn't come in."

"We don't discriminate against anyone. There was a lad in an England shirt who was arguing and he was barred so how can they say it is discrimination? If people come in mouthing off then they will be asked to leave."

Hyndburn MP Greg Pope, who is an avid Blackburn Rovers fan and watched the game with his family, said: "Landlords and pub managers have a duty to keep order in their pubs and have the right to refuse to serve anyone."

"Having said that, people of all nationalities are welcome into Hyndburn. Supporters of different countries should be able to have a pint and a bit of banter together as that is all part of the fun of it."

"I was gutted we lost the match but I am sure if I had watched the game with French fans I would have had enjoyed a glass of vin rouge with them and been gracious in defeat."

A spokesman for the Commission for Racial Equality declined to comment on the incident as no official complaint had been lodged.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist