English third-tier club Port Vale decided against hiring former Netherlands striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as manager over fears he would be racially abused by supporters, the club’s chairman has revealed.
Hasselbaink, appointed last week as Queens Park Rangers manager, was a candidate to take charge at Port Vale last year, but the memory of racist incidents involving the club’s fans deterred owner Norman Smurthwaite.
“I didn’t take him because of the racial issue the club had got. I didn’t think it was fair on him,” Smurthwaite told local newspaper the Stoke Sentinel, with a club spokesman confirming the story to AFP on Thursday.
“Can you imagine the poor bloke getting abuse, along with the normal abuse, if results were going against him? He would have been right for the club without doubt, but I don’t think the club would have been right for him.
“Ninety-nine percent of our fans are excellent, but a small minority leave us with policing and other issues.”
Port Vale, based in the city of Stoke-on-Trent in central England, were warned by the Football Association following an investigation into racist chanting during a home game with Bradford City in 2013.
Exodus Geogahhon, a former Port Vale player, revealed in 2011 that he had been subjected to “personal and racist” abuse following a defeat by Accrington Stanley.
Hasselbaink, who played for clubs including Atletico Madrid and Chelsea, was appointed by Burton Albion in November 2014 and led them to promotion from the English fourth tier in his first season.
The 43-year-old, who is black, is one of only four managers from black and minority ethnic backgrounds currently working in the English Football League, which is made up of 92 clubs.
Port Vale fans expressed dismay about Smurthwaite’s comments.
“I’m shocked with what he has said,” said supporters’ club chairwoman Ally Simcock. “I think the club has had issues with racism, but I don’t believe they were any worse than at any other football club.
“There have been a minority of fans intent on causing problems and race, as well as other discrimination, has been brought into it, but I don’t think having a black manager at the club would have been wrong.”