Exclusive: Senior Sheffield football official was fined and suspended for using racist language

A Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA official has been sanctioned after using the "N" word in a meeting.

By Bob Westerdale
Thursday, 18 April, 2019, 13:40
Stuart Topham, Secretary of the Wragg Football League club, pictured. Picture: Marie Caley

Stuart Topham, General Secretary of The Wragg Football League, is said to have made inflammatory comments at a local football meeting last year.

His remarks were recorded in minutes and the national Football Association later launched a commission of inquiry into his "improper conduct."

Derek Dooley award winner Stuart Topham, centre, with James Hope-Gill and Brian Jones

They were shown evidence that Mr Topham allegedly stated: "I call a n***** a spade. I used to have a dog called n*****."

The senior SHCFA official was also accused of having referred to Belsen in the meeting.

Mr Topham pleaded guilty to charges that he had used "abusive language aggravated by a person's origin, colour, race, nationality and/or faith/religion," say the FA.

He has not stepped down from his role in the organisation.

Stuart Topham

Mr Topham, who started out as a player for Intake in 1962, did not attend the Commission hearing, which made its decision on January 28.

The FA noted that, as a council member, “we consider this places an additional responsibility on him to maintain the highest behavioural standards.

"We were minded to apply a suspension of 70 days but also noticed Mr Topham had accepted the charge and had a clear record."

As a result, the suspension was reduced to 49 days.

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He was also fined £75 and told to attend an education programme.

Mr Topham, a former referee who was once team manager and club secretary for Ecclesfield White Bear, would not confirm or deny he had used the terms when approached for a comment by The Star, but pointed out: "I have served my sanction and paid the fine."

He said he would not be standing down from the SHCFA Council or the Wragg League, the only veterans’ league in the area for over 35s and 45s.

Mr Topham, who has rubbed shoulders with the game's greats, including Sir Geoff Hurst, claimed the incident was not worthy of publication adding: "As far as I and The FA are concerned the case is over."

He also said some elements of the case were "reported wrongly" to the FA - something "which I, unfortunately, failed to challenge."

In 2011, he was honoured for a lifetime of service to the grassroots football community in Sheffield.

His more recent disciplinary case follows that of SHCFA chairman Brian Jones, who The Star revealed had stepped down from the post after sharing an Islamophobic "joke" on Facebook.

Mr Jones said he was "full of remorse and terribly embarrassed by my momentary lack of judgement."

He was reminded that he had presided over an area with a diverse ethnic population.

SHCFA's mantra is: "Football is For ALL and should be enjoyed in a safe, fun and inclusive environment."

The Star has approached the SHCFA for a comment.