As the Premier League kicks off, meet the supporters changing the face of the beautiful game

Manchester City’s 22 June match against Burnley – a brisk, 5-0 dismantling in the ghostly expanse of a spectator-free Etihad Stadium – will not go down as a vintage contest of the Covid-disrupted 2019/20 Premier League season. But it will, regardless, live on ignominiously in the memory. Shortly after the kick-off of a game that had begun with players, staff and officials taking a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, the whirr of a light aircraft was heard overhead. Eyes went up. And there it was: a chartered plane towing a banner that read: “WHITE LIVES MATTER BURNLEY”.

The public outcry was swift (Burnley promised lifetime bans for those involved; the alleged key organiser, Jake Hepple, was sacked by the engineering company he worked for). But for those who have been paying attention to the atmosphere around domestic football in recent years – a climate that has seen a Brighton supporter jailed for eight weeks after screaming racist obscenities during a Tottenham game; and an FA Cup fourth round qualifier abandoned because Yeovil Town fans were hurling slurs and objects at Haringey Borough’s black players – this incident was both wholly shocking and grimly predictable.

We just want to be treated like football fans. We want to go there, represent our city and win

We have to challenge clubs and say, OK, you’re doing this – but can you do outreach here, where there are more Indians?

Education is important as well as a zero-tolerance attitude. People need to understand why racist comments are hurtful

Related: 'It's the hope that gets you': Spurs and Liverpool fans go head-to-head

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