Oldham Athletic have responded with disappointment to the news of Anthony Gerrard’s ‘lenient’ punishment from the Football Association.
Former Athletic skipper Gerrard – now with Carlisle - has avoided an FA charge over WhatsApp posts - months after being sacked by the Boundary Park club.
The FA last night confirmed that centre-half Gerrard (32) had instead been warned about his conduct and asked to attend an education course.
In September it was alleged that Gerrard had posted a "racist joke" in a players' WhatsApp group during his time with Athletic.
A month earlier, Athletic released a statement saying he had been sacked "for gross misconduct arising from certain social media posts which brought the club into disrepute", and had not appealed their decision.
The FA have now confirmed their investigation has concluded.
They said: "We can confirm Anthony Gerrard was issued with a warning letter regarding this matter and warned to his future conduct.
"He will also attend an education course, which is in the process of being arranged."
Gerrard, who is in talks over extending his half-season deal at Carlisle, has yet to comment on last night's news.
However, Athletic are clear on where they stand with regard to the FA’s punishment decision.
In a statement, the club said: “Oldham Athletic Football Club is disappointed with the FA’s lenient punishment of the racist behaviour displayed by a former employee during his time at the club.
“Whilst the club welcome football’s governing body dealing with this incident, the racist joke relating to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan posted in the Oldham players’ WhatsApp group was a serious matter which we believe has not been dealt with appropriately.
“We think questions must be asked about the conclusion of this investigation. In light of the recent, long overdue debate surrounding racism in football, as a club we feel this level of punishment does not do enough to support the hard work that clubs do to stamp racism out of football.
“More must be done to change attitudes not just in football at the top levels, but also lower down the pyramid as well as in society, and the club feel that this so called punishment does not echo that message.
“Racism is unacceptable in any form, and should play no part in football or society.
“Oldham Athletic is committed to making an inclusive, enjoyable atmosphere at Boundary Park for people of all backgrounds and are proud of the work that is being done in our community to bring people together.”