Burnley are to be denied a post-match trophy presentation if they win the Championship title at Charlton Athletic on Saturday (7 May). The Football League is breaking with the regular tradition of presenting the trophy to the champions if the already promoted Clarets gain enough points to claim the title in the final game of the season at The Valley.
It is believed that Charlton and the Football League fear potential trouble due to ongoing protests by fans against the club's ownership. Previous protests have included throwing balloons and beach balls onto the pitch. Middlesbrough will be facing Brighton and Hove Albion at the same time as Burnley play in a winner-takes-all battle for an automatic promotion place alongside the Lancashire club. Any of the three teams could claim the title.
If Burnley win the title, the Football League have said that a presentation will be made in the town on Monday. In previous years where the Championship went down to the wire and potential winners were playing at different venues, the Football League have made two trophies available.
Last season, "to ensure the Champions are able to celebrate their achievement, the Football League took the Championship trophy and an identical replica to the final day matches at the Valley and Vicarage Road. There were also be a set of medals on hand at each stadium for the winning players."
Burnley fans are furious that they will miss the chance to see their club lift the trophy if they claim it in the final game of the season. Around 3,500 supporters will be travelling to The Valley on Saturday, with Charlton carrying out strict checks to make sure that no Burnley fans make their way into the home areas of the ground.
In 2011, QPR were set to claim the title but were facing the possibility of losing it again if they were docked points due to alleged transfer irregularities that were being investigated. At the time the Football League said in a statement: "The Football League can confirm that it intends to present the nPower Championship Trophy to Queens Park Rangers at the conclusion of tomorrow's fixture with Leeds United, in line with custom and practice."
One fan wrote on social media: "This trophy has huge significance for Burnley fans as it is the same trophy that Burnley won in 1921 and 1960, and on which Burnley's name is permanently engraved, as a founder member of The Football League. It seems that this decision has been made with complete disregard to the fans.
"Imagine the England cricket team winning The Ashes and not being presented with the little urn, or England winning the World Cup in 1966 without Bobby Moore holding the Jules Rimet Trophy aloft in front of the Wembley crowd. To many sports fans the presentation of the trophy to the winning team is just as important as the action on the field."
Charlton fans were also surprised by the decision. One said on the Charlton Life message board: "I'd welcome the trophy to be yet again awarded to the visitors to the Valley. It would be a great reminder to our owner and management team what a club can achieve when it is run by capable human beings and not by a cabal of incompetents."
The Football League had not responded to inquiries from IBTimes UK at the time of publication. In a subsequent statement, they confirmed: "Following discussions with the three clubs involved, The Football League can confirm presentation arrangements for the Sky Bet Championship Trophy following Saturday's final round of matches.
"Should Middlesbrough win the title, the trophy will be presented at the Riverside Stadium following Saturday's match. Whereas if Burnley or Brighton & Hove Albion are champions, the trophy will be presented at a later date to enable a greater number of the winning club's fans to join in with the celebrations."
Charlton declined to comment and referred all questions to the Football League.