Cowdenbeath have warned the Scottish football authorities that they plan to walk off the pitch should striker David Cox suffer abuse from opposing players over his mental health issues.
Cox tried to take his own life in 2014 and, afterwards, revealed the abuse he had been receiving from fans and players.
This included shouts such as: “Are you going to do it right this time?” and “It must be difficult for you to travel over the Forth Road Bridge to get here”.
The abuse receded but it has returned this season and the League 2 club have now said they will act if it continues and that could include leaving the pitch.
Gary Bollan, the Cowdenbeath manager, said: “Mental Health issues should be treated the same as racism.
“Abuse is not something that David or anyone else should have to tolerate. He is dealing with issues in his life and he should not have to work in an environment where there is abuse from fans off the pitch and from players on it.”
Bollan insisted Cowdenbeath will no longer remain silent on the abuse meted out to the 30-year-old.
Bollan added: “It is an abysmal way for players to behave. I thought that there would be more respect between fellow professionals however, sadly, that is not the case.
“We have not named names yet, but we will be going forward. We are not just looking to make a stand for our player but for any player with mental health issues.”
Bollan went on to explain what action his players can take. He said: “I expect our players to follow the same protocol as they would for a racism incident.
“If it happens the players will call it out to make sure that the referee records it.
“It will then be up to the referee to deal with it on the pitch or advise others to deal with it off the pitch. If it continues to happen, or a referee does not accept that it happened, they will consider leaving the field.”
If the Cowdenbeath players do walk off, they will be fully supported by the club.
“Our chairman, Donald Findlay, and I have spoken about it and he knows it is an option that our players will look at,” added Bollan. “If they walk off, they will have his full backing as he does not believe that any player should be subject to abuse of that nature.
“The football pitch is a footballer’s workplace. Fans believe that they pay their money so they can shout what they want. However, you cannot do that at any other workplace, so why can you do it at football?
“Of course, David can be criticised for what he does [as a player], whether that is missing a chance, giving the ball away or mis-timing a tackle. However, you cannot criticise him for what he is and that is someone who is working hard to overcome challenges.”