A RACISM probe involving a striker at a non-league East Lancashire club has seen his former vice-chairman temporarily stand down.

An inquiry is being conducted by the Football Association and Northern Premier League after comments alleged to have been made by Colne FC number two Arron Hurst towards their top scorer, Sefton Gonzales.

This follows an initial investigation into the incident, which is said to have followed the Holt House club’s FA Cup tie against Gateshead on October 19.

The Lancashire Telegraph understands that Mr Gonzales, who lives in Chorley, made a separate complaint to the FA and the league after Colne FC found there was no case to answer.

Not only is the player thought to have questioned this but the club has come under fire from supporters on its own social media.

A Colne FC spokesman said: “Immediate action was taken whilst a thorough investigation was conducted. Following the investigation which included speaking to witnesses and working alongside guidelines set out by the club, the Football Association’s code of conduct and player contract, Colne FC officials have concluded there was no evidence of racist intent or behaviour.”

The matter has now been referred to the Northern Premier League and the FA.

The club spokesman added: “We are confident our investigatory process was professional, sensitive and fair. Colne Football Club takes all reports of hate crime seriously and would like to reaffirm that any such behaviour has no place online, in our stadium, our club, our community or our game.

“Mr Hurst strongly denies any accusation of racism however as the accusation has been brought into the public domain the position as vice-chairman is currently untenable and as such, as he did whilst the club conducted the initial investigation, he will step away from club duties and not attend matches until the process is completed.”

A Northern Premier League spokesman confirmed that the matter was set to be discussed at a disciplinary meeting to be held this Sunday.

Mr Gonzales, who has also played for Clitheroe and FC United, has since left the club, was unavailable for comment last night. And Mr Hurst, the managing director of a groundworks firm in Nelson, could also not be reached for comment.