“Hard Man” Tony Pearson, the Tory councillor for New Addington, faces an agonising weekend wait for a disciplinary hearing at Selhurst Park on Monday to discover whether he is to be sacked from his duties as a steward at Crystal Palace Football Club.
The hearing is to be conducted by Kevin Corner, Selhurst Park’s stadium manager, someone who is understood to have supervised Pearson’s work as a steward for many years.
If Pearson is found to have behaved as he has been accused, then it seems certain that he will be forbidden from stewarding at probably biggest game at Palace for a decade, Tuesday night’s League Cup semi-final first leg against Cardiff City.
Pearson, who is known unaffectionately as “Goggles” by some of the Palace faithful, has been a steward at Selhurst Park for 20 years. But he was not on duty at the side’s last home game, the visit of Leicester City on Monday.
Although suspended from football duties, Pearson meanwhile remains free to conduct himself as a trusted Conservative councillor at Croydon Town Hall.
Mike Fisher, Our Brave Leader of the Conservative group on Croydon Council, failed to answer when Inside Croydon called to ask whether he would be seeking Pearson’s resignation over this episode.
Pearson was one of two councillors for New Addington ward elected in May 2010. He compiled just 1,399 votes. Fisher’s Tory group holds a 37 to 33 seat majority over Labour on Croydon Council.
Next Monday’s disciplinary hearing at CPFC will consider a range of evidence from Palace’s televised home game against Birmingham City on December 19, including the club’s own CCTV footage, as well as testimony from fans in the Holmesdale End. The Football Supporters’ is taking a keen interest in the outcome of the hearing.
It is understood that this is not the first time that the club has received complaints about Pearson’s conduct, though Crystal Palace refused to confirm or deny this.
According to accounts from nearly 200 comments on the club’s bulletin boards (we recommend that you do read them: some of them are most revealing about the public conduct of a local Conservative councillor), Pearson is accused of having gone into the home crowd at the Holmesdale End of the ground – routinely made up of long-term season ticket-holders – to tear down a banner in support of the club’s chairman, Steve Parish.
In doing this, Pearson has been accused of barging people out of his way, of using foul and abusive language, and behaving in an aggressive manner without provocation.
One of the accusations involves the forcible removal of a mobile phone from a fan who may have been videoing the incident. Pearson issued a blanket denial to all the allegations when questioned by the Sadvertiser last week.
Yet Pearson effectively confirmed the mobile phone incident himself when he said: “Nobody signs up to be filmed while they’re speaking to a spectator.”
Although the Sadvertiser appeared to have routinely reported all sides of the story, Pearson – a regular cheerleader for Liverpool FC fan Gavin Barwell – later threatened the reporter with a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission. Notably, Pearson did not threaten to sue for libel.
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