Former Rangers player Kirk Broadfoot handed record 10 game ban by English FA for alleged sectarian abuse of Derry-born James McClean

Ban is believed to be the longest ban for verbal abuse in English football's history

FORMER Rangers and Scotland footballer Kirk Broadfoot has been banned for 10 games by the English Football Association for sectarian abuse of Wigan's James McClean during a match against home-side Rotherham.

The alleged abuse, the exact nature of which has not been disclosed due to a strict confidentiality agreement, is reported to be of a sectarian nature, and took place on 14 March 2015 at Rotherham's New York Stadium, during a clash against McClean's former side Wigan.

Broadfoot, who is a Protestant from Irvine in Ayrshire and now plays for Rotherham, was found guilty of committing an "Aggravated Breach" of Rule E3(1), which:

"includes a reference ,whether express or implied, to any one or more of the following :- ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, religion or belief, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation or disability."

McClean, a Catholic born and brought up in the Creggan area of Derry city, is a Republic of Ireland international.

McClean, a Catholic born and brought up in the Creggan area of Derry city, is a Republic of Ireland international and now plays for West Bromwich Albion.

He became well known outside of footballing circles in November 2014 when he wrote a letter explaining his refusal to wear a football strip embroidered with a red poppy. He wrote:

"For me to wear a poppy would be as much a gesture of disrespect for the innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles - and Bloody Sunday".

While the exact nature of Broadfoot's abuse to McLean has not been revealed, but media are widely reporting that it was of a sectarian nature.

McClean recently turned his back to the union flag during the singing of God Save the Queen at a friendly match in the United States.

Given Broadfoot's former club and international history, several anti-sectarianism initiatives in Scotland were approached by CommonSpace for their perspectives on the significance of this decision, but declined to comment due to the official secrecy about the exact nature of the abuse directed at McClean.

Picture courtesy of Tom Brogan