Ian Wright accuses Everton board of ‘trying to throw their fans under the bus’
Ian Wright has accused the Everton board of "trying to throw their fans under the bus".
Toffees supporters have been outspoken in their opposition to the board as their team faces another relegation battle. Fans staged a sit-in protest following their 2-1 home defeat to bottom of the league Southampton on Saturday, but ahead of the match, the club alleged chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale was "put in a headlock" leaving the directors' box after a recent game.
The claim was made in a statement, which suggested another incident saw her car surrounded and spat at, and that chairman Bill Kenwright had received death threats, which reportedly resulted in the board of directors being told by their security advisers not to attend the fixture at Goodison Park due to safety fears.
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However, Everton fans have disputed the accuracy of these claims and it has since been revealed that no report of the alleged headlock incident or any other offences were made to Merseyside Police. When questioned further over when and where the alleged headlock was said to have taken place, Everton stated on Monday night, via the Liverpool Echo: "The club will not be making any comment related to specific historic incidents."
BBC pundit Wright had questioned the alleged actions of Evertonians after Match of the Day's coverage of the relegation scrap, which left the Blues 19th in the Premier League table. But he has now apologised to supporters during a segment on his Wrighty's House podcast, explaining: "This is why I should have said allegedly. That's the mistake I made.
"The thing is that Everton fans have been very good, always, and I’ve never ever seen them in this light. Afterwards I’m thinking ‘why haven’t we seen nothing, why haven’t we seen something’. I saw some film the other day of someone filming a bit of paper on the pavement, so why hasn’t someone filmed Denise Barrett-Baxendale getting headlocked?
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"I’m so angry with myself, I’ve really let them down, the Everton fans. They’ve been very good. So I wanted to apologise for that. Plus, the thing is right, the morning of it all happening, I got a text message from somebody who’s high up, who knows Bill Kenwright very well.
"The correspondence between them and then to me, I was actually angry with Everton fans at that stage and I thought ‘yeah, I’m going to have to say something’. I want them to be peaceful in their sit-in and their protest. They’ve got every right to be frustrated but the fact is I just want to apologise, I don’t want to go on too much.
"Now what I want to see is some proof because one thing is for sure is that board and those fans, that’s over. Because they tried to really throw those fans under the bus after the frustration that they’ve gone through.
"Everything they’ve gone through up to this point and then they try to deflect the fact that they’ve been so incompetent in their work to now, that they want to deflect it onto the fans being nasty. I’m sorry Toffees."
Everton, who are ahead of Southampton on goal difference alone, resulting in mounting pressure on manager Frank Lampard, later announced that all security arrangements were being reviewed following Saturday's events.
The club now plan to have enhanced security measures in place before their next home match against Arsenal on February 4. That follows a trip to fellow strugglers West Ham United this weekend as Lampard's side look to end a run of just one win in 11 matches.
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