Southampton issue apology after fan forbidden entry to St Mary's England game for wearing Portsmouth shirt
John Westwood has received an apology from Southampton after refusing his entry to the England game they were hosting on account of him wearing a Pompey shirt.
As previously revealed by The News, the 56-year-old last week travelled to St Mary’s to watch Gareth Southgate’s side face Kosovo in a Euro 2020 qualifier.
Westwood, who had paid £35 for his ticket, was instead forced to return to his Petersfield home without catching England’s 5-3 victory.
It is understood Pompey subsequently took up his case with their south-coast neighbours, holding high-level talks.
And on Wednesday, Westwood received an email of apology from Southampton’s supporter relations team.
The correspondence, which has been seen by The News, read: ‘It has come to the club’s attention that the communication prior to the England vs Kosovo match should’ve been clearer in the lead up to the game to notify fans that if they chose to visibly identify themselves as Portsmouth supporters, that they would not be allowed entry to St Mary’s stadium.
‘On behalf of the club we apologise for this communication oversight which led to you being refused entry on the night.
‘I understand that you may be due a refund of your ticket price from the FA and would ask that you contact them directly on this matter’.
Following The News’ original story, Southampton initially released a statement claiming the ramifications of wearing a Pompey shirt to the England fixture was ‘communicated to the fan in question on multiple occasions ahead of his arrival at the stadium.’.
That was refuted by Westwood who, despite social media rumours, is not the subject of a St Mary’s banning order.
And ahead of Southampton’s Fratton Park visit in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday evening, he has accepted their apology.
Westwood said: ‘Southampton claimed they had contacted me before the game – if they had done, I wouldn’t have worn my shirt.
‘Yet when Pompey chased this up for me, I was asked if my phone number and email could be passed onto Southampton for them to respond. I’m not sure how they managed to warn me if they didn’t actually have them!
‘I didn’t go there to cause any problems. Yes they have said sorry, but at the time I offered to take my shirt off and turn it inside out. That wasn’t good enough and then I was told I was too well-known to be let in.
‘I don’t want to cause any trouble and I accept it. I’ve now drawn a line under it.
‘I didn’t even think I would get an apology, even though it’s a bit hollow, but an apology is an apology.
‘I don’t bear grudges, life is too short, you have to get on with it. All I’m thinking about is the next match which is Wycombe, I can’t wait.’
When the FA were last week approached for comment, they informed The News that match-day crowd safety operations were led by Southampton.