AN ARSENAL fan is locked in an on-going battle with the club over what he — along with thousands who have signed a petition supporting him — believes is an unjust ban from the Emirates Stadium.
Mick Doherty, whose family hail from counties Fermanagh and Longford, is the subject of a long-running campaign titled Justice for the Archway One.
The 47-year-old, who has followed Arsenal his “whole life”, was banned by the north London club after being convicted on a disorder charge in 2012 which was unrelated to the sport.
Archway-based Doherty pleaded guilty to a charge of using threatening words and behaviour after a “drunken pub argument” in Finsbury Park, he told The Irish Post.
The incident happened more than two miles away from the Premier League club’s home stadium, he added.
After being sentenced to 180 hours of unpaid work, Doherty claims the club decided to ban him from attending the stadium despite the judge refusing to impose such a ban on him at sentencing.
“The police officer involved applied for a banning order at the court but the judge refused it, saying the incident was non-football related,” Doherty explains.
Yet he continues to be kept away from him beloved team and those sympathetic to his plight have taken to signing a petition to urge a lifting of the ban.
Doherty himself continues to make representations to the football authorities.
“Arsenal are digging their heels in and don’t want to admit they were wrong,” he claims, while branding the club’s stance as “childish and silly”.
“I contacted the Premier League also, who tried to review the case, but then referred it up to the Independent Football Ombudsman,” he added.
Mr Doherty currently works in a voluntary role as Vice Chair and Events Manager at Islington Boxing Club.
“The big twist to all of this is I actually was running charity boxing events at the Emirates,” he said.
Over the years the boxing club has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for local charities in a series of bi-annual fundraising events.
“We’re the second biggest sports club in Islington after Arsenal. We’ve got over 1,000 members,” Doherty added.
And while he continues with his charity work, the Arsenal fan has no plans to stop his quest to gain entry to the stadium again.
“I’m still keeping my campaign going and it is growing in momentum,” he said.
However the club seems adamant that the ban will remain and told The Irish Post: “We are comfortable with the reasons why the ban was imposed and that is our position. That ban was imposed in consultation with the police.”
A Premier League Spokesman added: “Arsenal co-operated fully with all of our enquiries into this matter. We agreed with the club that it should be referred to the Independent Football Ombudsman and will make no further comment while they consider it.”
More than 2,360 people have currently signed up to the petition calling for Justice for the Archway One.