Hitchin Town FC terminate registration of player on loan at Codicote FC who mocked AFC Bournemouth star Harry Arter over stillborn daughter following Arsenal draw
PUBLISHED: 12:01 04 January 2017 | UPDATED: 16:37 04 January 2017
A Hitchin Town FC player who last night used Twitter to mock AFC Bournemouth star Harry Arter over his stillborn daughter has today had his registration terminated with immediate effect.
Hitchin Town FC said in a statement that it was severing any connection with striker Alfie Barker, who was on loan at Codicote FC, ‘in light of the player’s irresponsible and anti-social behaviour’.
Barker – who comes from Stevenage and went to The Barclay School – tweeted the Bournemouth player twice after Arsenal came back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with the Cherries last night, first saying: “At least you didn’t lose your kid.”
The 18-year-old then added: “Big hype just for a disappointment like the nine months leading up to your child’s birth.”
After his comments were widely condemned, Barker deleted the tweets and apologised this morning.
The Hitchin Town statement reads in full: “Alfie Barker was registered to play for Hitchin Town in the Southern League and has appeared only briefly for the club in the 2016-17 season. He has been playing at Langford and Codicote on a dual registration basis.
“The club adopts a responsible approach to social media and would expect any player connected to Hitchin Town to do likewise.
“In light of the player’s irresponsible and anti-social behaviour, we are terminating Alfie Barker’s registration and relationship with the club with immediate effect.
“We would reiterate that Hitchin Town, as a community club with established links with various segments of the public, has been a long-time user of social media channels and expects all club stakeholders to use them appropriately.”
Codicote FC issued a statement shortly afterwards saying: “Alfie Barker was registered with Hitchin Town but under dual registration came to ourselves and Langford FC. Codicote FC adopts a responsibility to its social media outlets and expects the staff and players to do likewise.
“In regard to comments made by the player of an irresponsible and anti-social nature we have no choice but to terminate our relationship with him.
“We would like to make it clear that Codicote FC cannot and will not tolerate this behaviour. We have a responsibility to our community, supporters and the football family to stamp this behaviour out.”
A spokesman for Langford FC tweeted: “Real sad, I’m not surprised. Glad we sent him back to Hitchin. Badly advised kid.
“We never doubted his ability to score goals, was more about personality why we sent back.”
Hitchin Town boss Mark Burke told the Comet earlier that the comments were ‘vile’, with Codicote stating that they were ‘disgusted and appalled’.
Barker’s Codicote strike partner Marc Arnott added that it was ‘embarrassing for our club’.
Stotfold FC, who had been poised to sign Barker, cancelled the move after the tweets surfaced.
The tweets were deleted at about 10.40am, with the account name changed afterwards to ‘got hacked’, with Barker’s photo removed.
The account name was then changed to a single full stop, before being deleted later in the day.
The sick messages refer to when Arter lost his baby daughter Renee at birth in December 2015. He has a tattoo dedicated to her on his arm.
Barker’s apology came after the comments were condemned by dozens of other Twitter users, with one writing: “You sick, evil individual. How can you make such a tweet about something that gives a lifetime of heartbreak?”
Another had added: “Horrendous thing to say, I bet your mother is really proud of you right now. Be a man and apologise.”