Stoke City should donate James McClean’s fine to the NHS at this unprecedented time in the nation’s history.
That’s the suggestion of one Stoke supporter and it’s unlikely to find too much opposition among the public as the NHS gears up for the worst that the coronavirus pandemic can throw at it.
Chris Duffy was tweeting a reply to the news that McClean had been fined two weeks’ wages and told to delete his Instagram account after Stoke responded swiftly to the winger’s controversial posting yesterday.
Chris tweeted: “Have a word with the club, donate the wages to the @NHS – turn this story around! Everyone wins.”
Those wages, over two weeks, are likely to be somewhere between £40,000/£50,000 so no mean offering.
McClean has infuriated supporters not only with the nature of his posting which showed him in a paramilitary-style black balaclava sat in front of his two children as if he was about to start a history lesson.
But also because he had mended so many bridges with Stoke supporters after a rocky start to life at the club.
As author and Sentinel columnist Simon Lowe tweeted: “Well done Stoke City. Completely unacceptable. Why oh why did he think this was a good thing to post?! So disappointed as I felt McClean had done a huge amount to win the fanbase over this season.”
Many Stoke fans were opposed to his signing in the summer of 2018 because of his Republican leanings and his poppy-day stance, while his form and that of the team did nothing to endear him over the next year.
The tide began to turn, perhaps, when he struggled out of position at left back, but continued to at least work hard for the cause, and turned further when he was restored to the left wing following Michael O’Neill’s arrival as manager and started to look like his old self as results enjoyed an upturn.
More fans appeared to accept that his poppy-day stance was not so much an insult to British soldiers as loyalty to his own roots back home in Derry.
And his restraint on social media was also going down well, it seemed, until yesterday.
The issue could easily have blown over amid the coronavirus crisis, but Stoke were not prepared to let it lie and were clearly keen to prevent a repeat performance on social media.
Many fans would no doubt have voted for him as their player-of-the-year before this controversy, but far less would be inclined now.
And how he is received when we return to normality could depend on how long that takes and what has happened in the wider world in the meantime.