Accrington Stanley is investigating claims a man believed to be a one-time member of the English Defence League was employed to organise match day stewards.
The club say they are cooperating with the Kick it Out campaign group, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, to investigate the claims.
It has been alleged that Bernard Holmes - who was convicted in 2012 of racially or religiously aggravated offences - was employed to organise stewards for matches at the Wham Stadium on behalf of the club.
However Stanley say that he was not a club employee and was employed by Blackburn-based security firm Soteria. In a statement Soteria said that Mr Holmes was suspended from being offered work at the Wham Stadium, but that he ‘regrets’ his former actions and poses no risk to individuals.
Club managing director David Burgess said: “Accrington Stanley are aware of the claims and are fully cooperating with Kick it Out during the investigation process.”
Posts on Facebook allegedly show Mr Holmes had been using social media to recruit stewards for Accrington Stanley matches from his friends base.
In the post he told people it was ‘£40 a game’ and that stewards ‘with or without badges’ could work the five hour shift at the stadium. He added: “Any messers will not be contacted again! Need to be reliable!”
A spokesperson for Kick It Out, who work to tackle racism and discrimination in the sport, said: “The organisation has been in contact with Accrington Stanley about these serious allegations.
“They have informed us that the individual is not a club employee and we will continue to liaise with the club during their investigation.”
Mr Holmes was jailed for 18 months at Preston Crown Court after pleading guilty to racially/religiously aggravated fear of violence and possession of cannabis.
Luke Scarr, director of Soteria said they are currently in the process of ‘fully investigating’ their working relationship with Mr Holmes but that the company believes ‘everyone deserves a second chance’.
He said: “Mr Holmes regrets that he made the choices that he did in his younger years and he is now eager to move on from his mistakes and demonstrate that he is no longer that same person.”
The English Football League said it was not within their remit to comment.
'No risk' posed to individuals - security firm
Director of Soteria, Luke Scarr, said a company risk assessment had been completed which found Bernard Holmes posed ‘no risk’ to individuals
He said: “As a company, we are very committed to safeguarding the public, we therefore have stringent policies and procedures in place for screening/vetting of all staff deployed by us.
“The fact Mr Holmes has previous convictions does not prevent him carrying out the role as a steward. One of the directors of Soteria is from Pakistani heritage and a Muslim.
"The working environment in which Mr Holmes works on a regular basis is multi-cultural and there hasn’t been any issues or cause for concern. Mr Holmes is actively taking part in the “Kick It Out” campaign at the club, helping to stamp out racism in football.
“Mr Holmes is actively involved with a local charity feeding the homeless.
“As a company, Soteria believe that everyone deserves a second chance in life, including Mr Holmes. Events that took place six-seven years ago should not be forgotten but also should not prevent Mr Holmes turning his life around and finding work. We will remain in constant communication with the club.
“Until further notice, Mr Holmes remains suspended from being offered work at the Wham Stadium.”