Row after Doncaster Belles banner is banned

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A row has broken out after fans against plans to ditch Doncaster Rovers Belles from the top flight of women’s football were stopped from protesting.

A group of supporters had planned to target Sunday’s Women’s FA Cup final at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium, hoisting banners, ringing bells and handing out leaflets and getting those attending to sign petitions.

But before kick-off in the showpiece game between Arsenal and Bristol Academy, which was screened live on TV, a banner attacking the Football Association’s decision, along with other campaign materials, was seized by stewards.

Campaign spokesman Tony Greenall said: “We were approached about an hour before kick-off in the car park by stewards who told us we wouldn’t be allowed into the game and they were taking things off us.

“We’d been handing out leaflets and getting people to sign the petition without fuss, so it all seemed a bit heavy handed.

“There was nothing offensive about the banner - it seems the FA just didn’t want to be embarrassed on national television.”

The homemade banner, which read ‘Doncaster Belles - 22 years in the top division ended by the FA’s Gr££d’ was retained following the match.

Other protest materials were returned to the campaigners.

A spokesman for the FA confirmed that a banner had been confiscated at the game and added: “It was taken by officials from Doncaster Rovers as it was deemed to be unsuitable.”