mark ingram
Mark Ingram, running back for the New Orleans Saints, said the group had been enjoying their time in London before the incident Getty

A group of NFL players say they were denied entry to a celebrity nightclub in London for being "too urban".

The New Orleans Saints players had booked a table at the swanky Cirque Le Soir nightclub in Soho on Monday night (27 February) while on a visit to the UK.

But one of the group of six, running back Mark Ingram, said they had been stopped by bouncers from entering the club.

Ingram, 27, wrote on Twitter that the group – which included cornerbacks Sterling Moore and BW Webb, safety Vonn Bell, and two other friends – were told they were "six big guys" who were "too urban" to enter the venue, despite all being under 6ft.

After saying their table was cancelled by the club, Ingram then tweeted a picture of the group, along with the caption: "Is this what 6 big 'too urban' guys look like?!"

Cirque Le Soir claims to be "London's most A-list club and decadent circus" and lists on its website a host of celebrities who have partied in the venue, including singer Lady Gaga, actor Leonardo Di Caprio and rapper Kanye West.

In a statement, the club said it was "upset by the suggestion that there was anything malicious in our turning away of Mark Ingram and his friends" – adding that it would never dismiss anyone for being "too urban".

But it appeared to also defend its bouncers, saying its door policy discouraged casual dress and that staff were within their rights to turn away "male heavy entourages".

The New Orleans Saints players were visiting London ahead of their NFL game against the Miami Dolphins at London's Wembley Stadium on 1 October.

Ingram tweeted that he and friends had an "amazing" dinner in the capital on Monday evening before the nightclub incident.

He wrote: "Me and my bros are in London. We have dinner with amazing service at Mnky Hse and we were headed out to have a good time!

"Might I add all Brits have been very friendly! I've been enjoying incredibly diverse culture in Ashbourne learning a historic game called Shrovetide football and everyone has been amazing.

"We pull up to Cirque le Soir where we have reservations and this is what they tell us.

"They told us they were "six big guys" that are too "urban" but nobody taller than 5'11!"

Appearing to stress it was an isolated incident, Ingram added: "Nonetheless we all can't wait to play out here @NFLUK next season! Gonna be crazy experience and I'm excited about it. I [love] England!"

Cirque Le Soir came under fire in 2015 when a woman wanting to gain entry was told by promoters any groups with "big/fat girls" would be turned away. The club distanced itself from the promoters, saying it was "not our door policy".

In a statement concerning Monday's incident, a Cirque Le Soir spokesman told the Daily Mail: "All of the team at Cirque Le Soir are really upset by the suggestion that there was anything malicious in our turning away of Mark Ingram and his friends from the club on Monday, February 27.

"We proudly celebrate diversity, not only as part of our shows, but as part of who we are. We would not dismiss anyone as 'too urban' and we would not turn anyone away on the basis of their ethnicity, sexuality or any other characteristic – other than those expressed in our door policy.

"As an exclusive members club, we cannot guarantee entry to anyone and full discretion always lies with the door. We particularly discourage casual dress code, intoxicated customers and male heavy entourages.

"Discretion lies with our door staff and while we sympathise with Mark and his friends we fully support our employees' right to challenge groups that do not adhere to our door policy. Admitting an all-male group goes against our policy and is clearly stated on Facebook and on all reservation confirmation emails.

"At Cirque le Soir we are committed to offering everyone a night like no other. We would be very happy to welcome Mark Ingram and his friends – male and female – to experience when they are next in town."