Nigel Farage in new attack on Preston Grasshoppers as chairman quits over cancelled charity dinner

The chairman of Preston Grasshoppers has quit in the wake of the Nigel Farage controversy.

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 9:29 am

The rugby club has confirmed that Martin Hothersall has stepped down from his role as head of the committee.

But Hoppers would not confirm if his resignation had been in anger at the cancellation of a charity dinner due to feature the former UKIP leader at Lightfoot Green next month.

Mr Farage claimed in his column in the Mail on Sunday this week that Mr Hothersall's departure was "in protest" at the club's U-turn over the event.

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Nigel Farage accused Hoppers' committee of being bullied into cancelling dinner.

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And he has since alleged committee members were "bullied" into pulling the plug on the dinner and were "not made of the right stuff" in the face of complaints from a small number of members.

Speaking on the GBNews channel, where he is a regular presenter, Mr Farage said cancelling the £75-a-head bash had cost St Catherine's Hospice "a big five-figure cheque."

"The mob's hatred of me and my role of promoting Brexit in this country over 25 years means they will stop at nothing, even if the local hospice is the loser," he said.

Martin Hothersall has stood down as chairman.

"That tells you more about them than it does about me. I am pretty disgusted about it . . . the cowardice of people.

"They (committee) got emails from people who have never supported Preston Grasshoppers, never been involved in rugby, never given the club or the hospice a penny and yet they are bullied into submission.

"The chairman has now resigned and there are senior members of Preston Grasshoppers - including former international rugby players - who are disgusted at what has happened."

The dinner, booked for December 21, was billed as "An Evening With Nigel Farage - The Man Not The Myth."

Preston Grasshoppers Rugby Club has been rocked by the controversy.

The former MEP said: "We were selling a lot of tickets. I was invited by some very prominent members of Preston Grasshoppers Rugby Club who thought 'what a fun idea to get Nigel on for an evening, use the club as a venue and to raise money for the local St Catherine's Hospice.'

"I was happy to do it, the event was non-political, the advert said it was about my life, the people I have met and the things I have done. So a fun evening, I would speak, take questions, we would raise money, we would do an auction and the hospice would have received a substantial cheque.

"One or two very politically active members didn't like it and for a pose they cut up their cards - they were not really leaving the club, believe me. Then you get social media and the normal hate mob.

"I am not a politician, I am retired. I am not active in politics at all. So they bombard the committee and the committee throw their hands up in horror and think 'oh my God everyone is going to leave the club.'

"This has happened to me dozens of times, venues have pulled out of events dozens of times. I am used to it. But the fact this was in aid of a local hospice ... is disappointing and, I will be honest, a little bit dispiriting.

"It needs fair-minded people, but it also needs strong people who will stand up to it and say 'we will not put up with this.'

"Sadly I think the committee of Preston Grasshoppers were not made of the right stuff.

"I think we will find that (after) a couple of people falsely cutting up their cards online, the reaction they are going to get from their members is one of real anger and real fury and that will come from a lot of people, not a handful of Labour councillors and active remoaner leftists.

"I have had to face this mob more than anyone else in this country, day after day, year after year and it feels to me today that they will simply never ever give up.

"They don't believe in free speech, they don't believe in basic human rights. Ironically they couldn't care less if their collateral damage is a local hospice."

Former chairman Mr Hothersall has been approached for a comment.

A spokesman for the rugby club committee confirmed that the chairman had stepped down and the committee was in the process of appointing a successor.

A statement from the club said: "First and foremost, the club does not endorse and align itself with any political party or organisation.

“Following feedback from our members, the club's management committee decided to cancel the booking to use our venue.

“We subsequently contacted the promoters of Nigel Farage’s event and informed them that we would not be able to use our venue for their event.

"As the booking is now cancelled, we consider the matter closed.”

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