A COUNCIL which threatened to ban football fans from a town centre has apologised – after supporters groups complained.

A letter sent by Chorley Council to neighbouring clubs Blackburn, Burnley, Bolton, Preston and Wigan suggested travelling football supporters were not welcome amid claims that shoppers and traders had been intimidated by large groups congregating outside local pubs.

However, the council has now moved to clarify its position, insisting fans on their way to nearby venues are welcome, but not in large groups.

A statement said: "In the letter, it stated that travelling away fans would not be welcome in Chorley - this is not the case we do welcome football fans and we apologise for this comment and any offence this may have caused.

"We do welcome football fans and the vast majority are extremely well behaved, add to the atmosphere and support our local businesses.

"What we can't have - and which is what triggered the concerns from traders - is a situation where large groups of fans are gathering in pubs, spilling out on to the streets and intimidating, or being seen to be intimidating other people using the town centre.

"It is a small minority of people that have been spoiling it for others in the past and it is the unruly fans who are causing anti-social behaviour that are not welcome."

The council is to write to the clubs concerned to clarify its stance and outline its hopes for an amicable solution to the problem.

The statement continued: "We apologise again for any offence this has caused and we would like to wish football fans of all clubs a successful season, and hopefully we'll see you in Chorley over the coming weeks and months."

Cllr Danny Gee, chairman of the council’s 'town team', who sent the original letter said: "One of the reasons they call here is that it is more and more difficult for away fans to get into pubs close to those grounds with many not admitting away fans, and for certain games alcohol is not served to away fans in the stadiums.

“That in turn has led to large groups of fans visiting Chorley town centre and on occasions spilling out of pubs on to the streets, drinking and intimidating people in town who are doing their shopping."

Cllr Gee said police had been sympathetic to the situation, but did not have the manpower to monitor full coachloads of supporters.