After the heartbreak of three of Gareth Southgate’s men missing their penalties in the final shoot-out, the UK prime minister Boris Johnson and the Football Association have condemned racist abuse aimed at England players Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka overnight on social media.
Such an ugly element also rose up in Sleaford, with a number of ‘fans’ attacking the outdoor area of Tiamo Italian restaurant in the Market Place, forcing the owners to spend the night on the premises fearing the place would be torched.
Sam Pavlou, owner of the restaurant revealed her anger in a post on the business’s Facebook page this morning after tables, planters and trellis were ripped down and damaged overnight.
She said bitterly: “Thank you to the England fans of Sleaford.
“You’ve done yourselves proud!
“And the ironic thing... I may own an Italian restaurant - but I’m English too and I watched the same game as you, with the same willingness for us to win as you had and the same gutted feeling when we didn’t.
“The big difference between us is that I recognise the efforts and the hard work that the England team and other people put into getting to where they are today!
“Unfortunately, I don’t have the money of the England team to rebuild your efforts of destroying us last night!”
Townspeople quickly rallied round with over 200 messages of sympathy, anger and offers of help to clear up and make repairs.
Sam said: “We have had people turning up with drills willing to put stuff up and take things down and even driving over to Grantham to get the exact same trellis to replace it.”
Having spoken to the police this morning, sam said: “I have hundreds of videos of the people that did it because they put it all over their social media.
“Not only did they do the damage, there were lots of threats to burn the place down, so we camped out and slept on the floor to make sure our restaurant was safe. They came back later but left when they saw us.”
She said she had made sure the restaurant closed early and locked up in case there was any trouble later and even checked her CCTV cameras just after the match, but then was alerted to the incident half an hour later.
Sam said it is a “kick in the teeth” after everything hospitality businesses have endured through the pandemic.
“We have all had it so hard, then rebuilding everything. We were all so positive about coming out the other side, me and my whole team putting our all into the restaurant.”
She believed the outdoor seating area was seen as an easy target.
One person commented: “No fans took part in this just thugs who think it’s acceptable to watch a game they didn’t even care about, get too drunk and damage your property, I hope they are dealt with appropriately and you receive compensation for the damages! These people, whoever they are, should be ashamed but are definitely not fans!”
Luke Tinsley, who is one of the managers of the Jolly Scotchman Football Club has set up a Go Fund Me page to collect donations to repair the vandalism, raising over £1,200 in the psace of a couple of hours.
He said: “I am truly saddened to wake up to the news that ‘fans’ of the sport I love have caused a lot of damages to a well loved restaurant in Sleaford.
“This restaurant spent a lot of money doing up the outside so we could all go enjoy a night out when we couldn’t go in.
“If we could help raise a little bit to help them cover the cost of damages from these mindless thugs.
“Not all Sleafordians and football fans are bad,” he said.
Sleaford Town FC has also offered to help and prove not all football fans are bad.
Sam said she was overwhelmed and emotional by the outpouring of support, getting calls and messages, offers of money, flowers and cookies. A woman who cannot walk even turned up offering to help.
She said the tremendous goodwill has been a positive from this, with fellow businesses Watergate Yard, the Barge and Bottle, Tablez, Market Place Cafe, Bellissimo Boutique, Turnbull’s and Lorraine’s Childrenswear all offering help, while Becky Arumugam at Little Hair Beautique sent sympathy flowers.
The trellis and planters were expected to be repaired today, but the tables and chairs cannot be replaced like-for-like and so she is looking at borrowing others until different ones can be found.
She said: “I’m so grateful for everything that people are doing, but it should not be the members of the public that pay for this. I want the people that did it to give the money and be held responsible for what they have done. If they apologise that will be it - finished.
“Why should other people pay for their ridiculous, reckless behaviour?”
She added: “We are extremely overwhelmed by all the messages and calls of support and well wishes.
“We will use the money we need to replace furniture, etc and then donate the rest to charity. Please do not donate any more money. From the bottom of our hearts thank you all so so much.”
Lincolnshire Police say they are investigating the incident and are aware of social media footage of the incident.