Crusaders have expressed their dismay after Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) carried out a search on club premises over a four-hour period on Monday afternoon.
The police confiscated, according to the club, a flag and a baton that had been taken away from away fans during routine searches at Seaview.
The exact circumstances of the search wasn't stated by the club, however Crusaders reiterated that the club is 'a welcoming an open venue to all and [we] have no truck with paramilitarism.'
It was reported in the Northern Irish media earlier today that the club had been searched in connection with a wider crackdown on UVF paramilitaries that had seen three men arrested.
Statement from Crusaders:
On Monday 11/9/2017 between 2-15pm and 6-15pm officers of the PSNI carried out a search at the premises of Crusaders FC. The sole items confiscated were a flag and a baton, both items which had been removed from away fans at a recent NIFL League match as part of routine match-day management.
Crusaders FC are perturbed and cannot comprehend the actions of the police in carrying out such a reputationally damaging action in such a public manner.
Crusaders FC have sought to make Seaview a welcoming and open venue to all and have no truck with paramilitarism, from whichever quarter. Our members, supporters, staff and players come from all communities. The high profile search operation could have occurred with our consent at any time, without smearing the club's or the stadium's reputation.
The PSNI action has damaged Crusaders FC. We can only redouble our efforts to ensure that Seaview remains a welcoming, open and inclusive venue for players, spectators and visitors alike.