MARVIN BARTLEY has revealed he thanked Turf Moor captain Ben Mee for his commendable response to the ‘idiot’ who dragged Burnley’s reputation through the mud.
The Livingston stalwart was on the books of the Clarets between 2011 and 2014, and is adamant the ‘White Lives Matter’ banner that was flown over the Etihad does not represent the values of their fanbase.
Bartley still recalls playing alongside a fresh-faced Mee six years ago – but was beaming with pride as he watched the skipper, now an experienced stalwart, firmly condemn the gesture.
A visibly emotional Mee stated he was ‘ashamed and embarrassed’ and told the perpetrators to ‘come into the 21st century’.
And Bartley said: “I sent Ben a message after I saw his interview, just to say thank you.
“When I was at Burnley, he was still a young boy and learning his trade. But after the game on Monday, his words were perfectly pitched. Even if someone had two days to work on a script, I don’t think they could have said it any better than Ben.
“And after a 5-0 defeat, with emotions all over the place, it was extraordinary professionalism.
“I’ve had a couple of people say to me in the days since ‘Marv, that was your old club – I wonder what they thought of you?’ Well, that banner does not represent Burnley as a football club.
“That was one idiot and I would never allow him to tarnish my view of my old team or their fans.”
Bartley’s view that a handful of morons should not be allowed to trash the perception of a whole club applies equally to his erstwhile rivals, having suffered sickening abuse at the hands of Hearts ‘fans’ while on the books of Hibs.
Bartley added: “It’s similar to when I was racially abused by two Hearts followers – I won’t call them supporters because they are doing nothing to support the club. I would never think to label Hearts fans racist, it’s total nonsense.”
The act of stupidity in Manchester was in response to the ongoing Black Lives Matter campaign which has gathered momentum in football since the resumption of the English Premier League.
All players are wearing the message on the back of their jerseys and have taken a knee prior to kick-off.
And Bartley has echoed the views of Rangers forward Jermain Defoe that similar scenes should be embraced north of the border.
He added: “Taking a knee is something I’d definitely be happy to do and, speaking on behalf of Livingston, I’m sure we’d all be the same.
“Our season is still a little bit of time away so there are no firm plans in place, but in terms of continuing to combat racism, I’ve always been willing to whatever needs to be done to get the message across and raise visibility.
“If one good thing has come from a really difficult period around the world, addressing this issue, it is that these awkward conversations are now happening.
“It’s all about education – I’ve had to educate myself to do better too – and I hope positive steps continue to be taken because until racism is eradicated, the job isn’t done.”