West Ham striker Demba Ba has denied being responsible for starting a brawl at the relegated club’s end-of-season gala awards on Monday night.It was suggested trouble began when Ba refused to sign an autograph for a fan at the function at Grosvenor House Hotel in London.
Police were called after tables were overturned, a vase smashed and chairs thrown, with security allegedly pursuing a group of fans as they fled the premises.
But the Senegal forward denied claims he had snubbed a supporter.
“I did sign the autograph,” Ba wrote on Twitter. “I never refuse to sign autograph to the fans.”
“He came to me saying he is tired to watch us play and was looking for confrontation.”
Co-owner David Sullivan later claimed that a drunken supporter had racially abused a player at the function.
“The whole incident has been blown out of all proportion,” Sullivan said. “It was one individual who had too much to drink, sadly a problem in British society.”
“A player was racially abused by the same drunken supporter, which is not acceptable. Sadly one drunken supporter let the club down.”
The incident came on the back of a 3-2 Premier League defeat to Wigan, which condemned West Ham to the Championship.
The result led to the immediate sacking of manager Avram Grant ahead of the club hosting Sunderland in their final game of the season on Sunday.
The relegation brings to an end a dramatic few seasons in the top flight for the Hammers since their promotion for the 2005-06 campaign.
That season the club impressed with a mid-table finish under Alan Pardew and almost won the FA Cup final, eventually falling in a penalty shootout to Liverpool after a dramatic 3-3 draw.