Darlington Football Club chairman George Reynolds banned a group of fans from his new stadium yesterday and issued a stark warning to his critics.

"Let no one be in any doubt that detractors can expect confrontation either at the ground or home," he said in an official statement sent to The Northern Echo and posted on the club's official website.

Last night, Darlington Supporters' Trust described the threat to confront critics at their homes as a "very unfortunate development".

Police have already been called in to investigate a number of incidents in which Mr Reynolds has gone to the homes of people he considers to be his critics.

The latest bans follow Mr Reynolds' decision to exclude fans' website editor Scott Thornberry.

Supporters of Mr Thornberry, who ran the Darlo Uncovered website, protested during Quakers' 2-1 home win against Doncaster on Saturday.

The trust has launched a petition calling on the club to overturn the decision.

But Darlington FC issued a statement yesterday, saying: "The chairman and directors reiterate without reservation that the decision to ban Scott Thornberry from the club stands and will not be rescinded."

Mr Reynolds alleged that the website and a "very small minority" of supporters had waged a malicious campaign against him and his family which created "a climate of hate".

He called on the trust to urgently review its position, saying the campaign had resulted in abuse of him, his wife and his children.

The statement went on: "Darlington Football Club has come a long way since those dark days in 1999. We are financially viable with no debt.

"We have a stadium which is the envy of the football industry, and as recent events prove, the team is coming together on the field."

The Northern Echo understands about five supporters received letters banning them from the stadium.

Tony Taylor, a board member of the trust, said: "We would ask Mr Reynolds to read very carefully our statement in which we made it expressly clear that we do not condone abusive comments made on the website.

"But we ask the club to take a reasoned attitude to this situation which we feel has been exaggerated and we would like to see those supporters back in their seats as quickly as possible.

"We are a little concerned that we have an unprecedented situation where we have a chairman of a football club threatening on his own official website to confront critics among the the club's fan base at their own homes.

"We regard this as a very unfortunate development."