A rugby club in Preston has been forced to cancel a dinner with Nigel Farage following backlash from members and the community.
The event, billed as ‘An evening with Nigel Farage: The man not the myth’, was canned after it sparked outrage on social media, with some membersresorting to cutting up their season tickets.
Preston Grasshoppers RFC has since told LancsLive “we are an inclusive club, and it wasn’t the right thing for us”.
A “truly groundbreaking politician”
The event ad appeared on the club’s website and was due to take place on December 21, saying it offered a “fascinating look at the life, times, background and career of a truly groundbreaking politician.”
They added: “This is not about his politics, it’s about his journey, taking on the establishment, cheating death three times, his love of sport, his insight and friendship’.”
According to the now-deleted advert, profits were due to go to St Catherine’s Hospice, with packages of tables of ten offering three-course dinners available for £750.
The ad was removed following a backlash on social media and the club has since issued an update apologising for hosting the event.
“Is this a joke?”
A number of residents vented their frustration on Twitter, Hussein Khambalia wrote: “Is this a joke? How can you justify giving this bigot a platform at what is supposed to be an inclusive community rugby club.
“You are supposed to be helping to increase participation in rugby from all communities and backgrounds, not inviting racists to lecture us.”
Meanwhile, Steve Tiernan posted a photograph of two membership cards having been cut in half.
Coun Potter, who supports the club, said: “It was supposed to be a private function, but I think it’s a risk, taking on someone as divisive as Nigel Farage. I could not believe that they had made that decision.
“The event has now been cancelled, which I am happy with. I was not the first person to have seen it; a few people were cutting up their membership cards, and I thought, what’s that about? Then I heard other reports on the junior sections – that parents had decided not to take their kids to training that morning.
“If you have people with very strong views in your club, you have to expect some people will be very upset, that is their freedom to take their money away. Farage is a horrible, horrible person, and the only power I had was to withdraw my support for the club.
“I’m a member of the club, it’s an amazing club and does loads of brilliant things for the community, but all I could do was to withdraw my membership and my support of the club.”