Police are examining mobile phone footage following reports of racist and abusive behaviour by Chelsea fans on a train on Sunday night. British Transport Police (BTP) said they were called to meet the London to Manchester train as it entered Stoke station, and asked four men to leave. Four others left of their own accord.
A BTP spokesman said: "Shortly after 10.30pm on Sunday 1 March, officers were called to meet a Euston to Manchester Piccadilly train at Stoke, following reports of racist and abusive behaviour by a number of passengers, said to be football fans."
He continued: "Colleagues from Staffordshire Police also attended. Officers asked four men to leave the train at Stoke. We have spoken to two witnesses, and investigations continue. Rail passengers and staff have the right to travel and work in peace. Abusive behaviour on trains and at stations is unacceptable and we will not hesitate to investigate any such incidents."
The spokesman said passengers claimed the abusive fans were Chelsea supporters, but this is being investigated. BTP is examining mobile phone footage of the incident, which the force obtained from a witness. No details have emerged of the abuse or racist language alleged to have been used.
A Chelsea spokesman told Press Association Sport: "We are aware of the reports but it is not clear at this time if this incident involves Chelsea supporters. If it did then we will assist the British Transport Police with their inquiries."
Chelsea were celebrating after winning the League Cup with a 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, but the west London club has been hit by a number of racism incidents involving its fans over recent weeks.
Last month Chelsea fans were filmed on the Paris Metro shouting racist chants and refusing to allow a black man on to a train carriage before the Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain. The club suspended five supporters in connection with the incident. Another group of fans returning from Paris were heard shouting racist chants at London's St Pancras station.
Meanwhile there were ugly scenes at Millwall's match at Rotherham United on Saturday. Riot police had to step in after some Millwall fans turned nasty and tried to invade the pitch and home stands at the New York Stadium. There were reports of further trouble outside the ground after the game, with two stewards injured and the windscreen of a car containing a disabled home supporter smashed.