Charlton Athletic have been blasted by fans after a supporter was told they had to sign a contract precluding them from "posting derogatory or inflammatory comments" on social media about the club.
Last week a fan who has performed volunteer work for the club in the past received a letter from new duty safety officer Cliff Eager informing them that they would only be issued a season ticket in person and on the condition they first signed an "agreed behavioural contract" regarding their online comments.
Charlton's board has been subject to protests and severe online criticism in the past year from fans furious at what they see as the mismanagement of the club by absentee Belgian owner Roland Duchatelet and his appointed chief executive Katrien Meire.
A spokesperson from fan protest group the Campaign Against Roland Duchatelet told City A.M. the letter in question was "naive and foolish and illustrates the quality of management at the club".
— James Maddison (@JamMad83) August 12, 2016
City A.M. understands that only one letter of its kind has been sent by Eager, a former police chief inspector who joined the League One club last month, and that the issue was resolved without any contract being signed when the fan in question was accompanied by the head of the Charlton Athletic Supporters' Trust to a meeting with club officials.
Charlton were relegated from the Championship into League One last season, two and a half years since being taken over by Duchatelet.
Update, 12:38pm 12/08/2016. Charlton have issued the following statement:
"The club can confirm that they sent a letter to one supporter relating to their continued inappropriate behaviour towards members of staff on Charlton’s official social media accounts and foul and abusive language captured on stadium cameras.
"No other letters have been sent to supporters. A letter was sent to this individual as it was relating to a particular set of circumstances.
"On Thursday, August 11th 2016, the individual was called by the club to arrange a meeting to discuss foul and abusive messages directed towards staff, both in person and via Charlton’s official social media channels.
"For a number of years, the club, together with the Metropolitan Police, have run an Agreed Behavioural Contract process which is designed to respond to anti-social behaviour rather than criminal prosecution or banning orders.
"In the past, such contracts have been signed by individuals to address a variety of issues such as constant use of foul and abusive language in the family area.
"In this instance, the club called the meeting to explain the Agreed Behavioural Contract process with the individual and the reasons behind it. It was emphasised that the meeting was not due to any involvement with supporter protests, but solely in response to his continuous, personal behaviour and abuse.
"The individual met with Head of Matchday Operations Mick Everett, who has worked for the club for more than 20 years, and recently appointed Duty Safety Officer, Cliff Eager, who joined the club in June after 35 years of experience as Chief Inspector within the Police.
"During the meeting, the level of abuse, which the individual has since voluntarily removed from their Twitter account, was discussed.
"The club also discussed the video footage, after which the individual apologised on several occasions for his behaviour and assured the club that he would not continue to engage in an abusive manner.
"He was accompanied by the Chairman of the Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust who witnessed the individual’s apology.
"The meeting ended amicably and, as he appeared sincere in his apology, the club handed the individual his 2016/17 season ticket and he was not asked to sign an Agreed Behavioural Contract.
"Charlton wish to emphasise that we encourage supporters to engage with the club, but like any other football club, will not tolerate abusive and threatening behaviour."