THREATS made against gipsies living next to a proposed football stadium are being taken seriously by police.

Racist messages were posted recently on one of Darlington FC's unofficial web sites.

It followed the news that the building of the ground at the town's Neasham Road could be held up amid claims it would violate the civil rights of people at the nearby travellers' site.

The messages contained references to Hitler, and one had a threat to "burn" the gipsies.

It is not known whether those who posted the message on the web site belong to any far right groups, or are just people who perceive the gipsies to be the reason for the hold-up with the stadium.

Gary Nixon, a spokesman for the 21 families living on the site, said the messages are causing them concern.

"We are taking the threats seriously, even though we can't understand why they have been made against us just because of the lifestyle we live," he said.

"We are genuine British taxpayers - and although we are concerned about some of the messages, we will not be driven away."

A spokesman for Durham Police said they are treating the threats seriously and will be monitoring the situation.