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Bartley calls for firm action from FA after alleged incident of racial abuse during Marlow's win over FC Romania

Marlow boss Mark Bartley believes the FA’s handling of an incident which allegedly saw Ronanyne Marsh-Brown racially abused by an FC Romania player during Saturday’s 2-1 win for the Blues will be a ‘pivotal case’ as the association looks to get a grip on a concerning trend that’s starting to blight the game once again.

The match was entering its closing stages on Saturday when a an allegedly racist remark was made to the Marlow player, prompting what Bartley describes as ‘tears of anger’ from some of his players in the dressing room after the final whistle.

He and his management team were hard pressed to stop the incident from escalating into violence as the players came off at the end, and Bartley believes that if the FA doesn’t take firm action in this instance, it will set a worrying precedent for the future.

He says that if the incident is brushed under the carpet it could lead to players taking matters into their own hands as they look to dish out retribution. After the game Bartley said players were asking him 'how someone could get away with saying that and nothing be done?'

“This is just a really pivotal moment for me, and a lot of people in non-league football,” said Bartley this week.

“Because the FA needs to show that it’s willing to deal with this properly. I just fear that if they don’t players will start taking things into their own hands.

“It could set a dangerous precedent if nothing or little is done. We’ve had a lot of coverage about this on social media, and a lot of support from other clubs, and I’m fearful that if there isn’t seen to be any real, true, justice, then it will send a message, not just to my players, but to players up and down the country, that this thing can happen to you and people will get away with it or nothing will be done.”

The incident marred what should have been a memorable last-gasp home win for the Blues.

Trailing 1-0 they netted twice in the final 20 minutes to come from behind for victory, with Adam Richards scoring the winner in the 89th minute, moments after the flashpoint threatened to bring the game to an early conclusion.

“What should have been a good, winning feeling just turned into a situation where we were trying to calm the players down,” said Bartley. “Even though our goal came quite late we were deserving winners and, whether or not that has played into their mindset, it’s still unacceptable what their player did.

“My players are already saying to me ‘no one’s going to do anything, they can just say this stuff and get away with it’.

“It was surreal. You see and hear about it happening but when it’s actually happening to you or one of your players, it’s really, really tough. People were in tears, they were angry, frustrated and upset and you have this innate desire to try and sort it out yourself.”

The club are taking the matter further, and will make their case to the FA in writing this week, including accounts from players and supporters who witnessed the incident.

Bartley has also been contacted by Troy Townsend, head of development for Kick It Out – an organisation working in football to challenge racial discrimination. He has pledged the organisation’s support for the club and the player.

Bartley said that, after the game, a member of FC Romania’s board acknowledged a racist remark had been made by one of their players, however, the club and its manager have since taken to Twitter to disagree with Bartley’s account and deny that anything racist was said.

FC Romania were founded in 2006 by a group of Romanian workers in England who wanted to play football. The core of the side are still of Romanian heritage, however, they do now sign on players of other nationalities.

“It’s strange because their manager came back to me on Sunday saying he disagrees with it and denies it,” added Bartley. “But after the game one of their representatives came into the board room and accepted and admitted their guy had said this thing to Marshy. He said that in front of our chairman, our vice chairman and the match officials, so to wake up in the morning and find their manager disputing what has been said, I don’t know where they’re trying to go.

“Basically they’re going on one player saying something to another player, and not many others being within earshot.

“But we’ve watched the video back. You can see from the body language what’s happened. You can see Marshy reacting and thinking ‘hold on, what’s he said there?' And you can see the other players trying to pacify Marshy.”

Bartley added: “It’s with the FA at the moment. The referee has put his report in and we’ve got to reply to the FA by Thursday (today). We’ve got video evidence to support our case, as well as statements from some of the supporters. We’ve been told that other comments were made at the end of the game as well, so we’ve also got that.

“We’ve also been in contact with Kick It Out so we’ll take this as far as we need to.”

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