STEWARDS confiscated football fans’ 10ft flag of St. George, claiming it could be viewed as a ‘racist symbol’.

The group of Blackburn Rovers supporters said they were left stunned by the actions of the officials at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.

A Blackburn councillor, who is deputy chairman of national patriotic group the Royal Society of St George, said the ‘ridiculous move’ had prevented the fans ‘showing pride in their country’.

Arsenal FC said it had decided to ban all national flags following a row over a fan’s Turkish Cypriot flag in 2006.

Supporters from the Havelock Inn, Havelock Street, Mill Hill, unfurled their English flag, emblazoned with “Havelock Blues”, at the stadium before Saturday’s game.

David Iley, 24, of Bamber Bridge, a regular at the pub who arranged for the flag to be made, said: “When we got there we started putting it out, and the steward came up and told us we couldn’t.

“It never entered my head at first that the St George Cross wasn’t allowed. I thought it was just that we couldn’t put it there.

“So we hooked it over the hoardings at the front instead, and the next thing we know a steward was taking it away, saying it could be seen as a racist symbol.

“I couldn’t believe it. When we took it to Hull the stewards even helped us put it up. It’s the national flag and its absolutely stupid that Arsenal should ban it.”

Since it was made just a month ago, the flag had already travelled to Hull City and Fulham with the pub fans with no problems.

Spokesmen for Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool all confirmed that national flags were allowed at their home grounds.

Coun Williams slammed Arsenal.

He said: “We are planning a St George extravaganza on April 23, and giving out St George’s flags all over town, and yet we have those same English flags being confiscated. It’s ridiculous.

“The one thing we want people to be proud of is being English and people are taking more and more pride in their country.

“These people were expressing that pride in the right way, just like they should be able to do at any time and certainly at any national event.”

An Arsenal spokesman said the ban related a row in December 2006.

An Arsenal Turkish Cypriot season ticket holder riled Greek Cypriot fans by displaying his flag.

As a result, all national flags are now banned at the stadium.

The Arsenal spokesman said: “Arsenal as a club prides itself on being inclusive with respect to all nationalities, cultural and ethnic groups.

“We have therefore decided that in order for all of our fans to enjoy their experience at Emirates Stadium, we are asking that only flags without any national emblems, are displayed within the stadium.”

He added that the ban was lifted for international matches at the ground.”

John Newsham, stadium safety manager at Blackburn Rovers, said: “We would never comment on the policy of other clubs in relation to flags.

“We have an open approach, providing the flags meet set criteria.

"For example, flags are vetted for any inappropriate wording which may be considered offensive by the club or any spectators and they must not be draped over emergency exit signs or advertising hoardings.”