Luton Town have been fined £120,000 after homophobic chants by their fans during their first-ever match in the Premier League.
Hatters’ supporters hurled the abuse as their team played an away game at Brighton.
The chanting happened on Saturday 12 August, during the opening weekend of the season. Brighton won the game 4-1.
Luton said they had “accepted a charge following abusive, offensive, homophobic, discriminatory chanting by supporters”.
As well as being fined by the Football Association, the Bedfordshire club have been issued with a two-year-action plan to help improve fan behaviour, as they were warned about future conduct.
The FA said the club “admitted they failed to ensure their spectators and/or supporters… conduct themselves in an orderly fashion; and do not use words or otherwise behave in a way which is improper, offensive, abusive, indecent, or insulting with either express or implied reference to sexual orientation”.
The Hatters said they were “an inclusive, family-oriented club” which “abhors abusive chanting such as this and has a zero-tolerance policy towards discrimination of all kinds”.
The club said any fans identified will be banned and face possible police action.
Luton said they will continue to promote the ‘Love Football. Protect The Game’ campaign and added: “Those involved were committing a criminal offence and anyone subsequently identified will be issued with a club ban and face potential police investigation.
“Luton Town has worked with supporters in recent seasons to help form the Rainbow Hatters supporters’ group for members of the LGBTQ+ community, who meet regularly to share their experiences of watching the Hatters.
“We will work further with supporter groups to educate and inform on all forms of discriminatory acts to ensure that watching Luton Town is a safe and welcoming experience for everyone.”
In May, the club were promoted to the top flight of English football for the first time in 31 years after winning the Championship play-off final 6-5 on penalties against Coventry.
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Chanting about Hillsborough tragedy
Meanwhile, Luton fans were condemned by the FA for chanting about the Hillsborough disaster during their 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Kenilworth Road on 5 November.
Liverpool are understood to have asked Luton for answers over whether they followed new Premier League guidance over tragedy chanting, which includes in-stadia action on the perpetrators and warnings over the tannoy, and what they are going to do about it next.
On 6 November, Luton released a statement in which they threatened to ban individuals identified as having taken part in the tragedy chanting.
The club said: “Luton Town Football Club is saddened by reports of inappropriate chanting towards Liverpool supporters during yesterday’s Premier League fixture at Kenilworth Road.”
The Hatters added: “The club condemns any kind of chanting that knowingly seeks to divide, and our safety and security team launched an internal investigation at the earliest opportunity.
“On behalf of all at Luton Town, we would like to wholeheartedly apologise to anyone offended by the chants heard during yesterday’s match, and will continue to work with supporter groups to educate fans on chants that are classed as tragedy abuse by football authorities, the police and CPS.”
Ninety-seven football fans died as a result of a crush at an FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough in Sheffield on 15 April 1989.
Luton are currently 17th in the table with six points after 12 matches, and are one place above the relegation zone.
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