YORK'S voters were today given an unequivocal message ahead of this week's council election: Whatever you do, DON'T vote BNP.

The Archbishop of York and promotion-chasing York City footballers spoke out ahead of Thursday's poll, urging the city's residents not to be wooed by the far-right British National Party.

In an advert placed in The Press today, Dr John Sentamu urged people to use their vote wisely, and launched a thinly-veiled attack on members of the BNP, who are this year standing in York for the first time.

He wrote: "Jesus warned us to be wary of wolves who come in sheep's clothing. They come with honeycombed words, promising a New England, and a land of milk and honey.

"In reality they offer us a diet of bile and discord, a litany of hopelessness and stoke the ashes of Clifford's Tower.

"If apathy becomes the real winner on Thursday night, then those who seek to divide us will be elected, hiding under apathy's skirt.

"My hope is that as you cast your vote on Thursday you do so with your eyes wide open so that our city does not sleepwalk into a wall of hate."

He quoted Edmund Burke's famous warning that good men doing nothing leads to the triumph of evil, and warned that not voting would be "short changing our city".

Meanwhile, York City captain Manny Panther took time out from the club's play-off preparations to reinforce the message.

He said: "York City has worked really hard to make KitKat Crescent a friendly, welcoming place and I've helped to promote our Minstermen Against Racism campaign. As a black footballer, who has seen the game change for the better in recent years, I feel very uncomfortable with the message the BNP are promoting. I was surprised to hear they are fielding candidates in the York area and I can only urge people not to vote for them in the elections on Thursday."

His team-mate Steve Bowey said: "I do not feel that the BNP's policy would be of any benefit to the city of York and I hope our supporters and the wider public do not vote for them."

Meanwhile, York Archaeological Trust is taking legal advice over an election leaflet by the BNP's Hull Road candidate Trevor Brown, in which he says he is a Friend of York Archaeological Trust.

Chief executive John Walker said the trust was seeking the advice of lawyers.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre has also asked Mr Brown to remove references to them from his literature.

Ian Dawson, the BNP's York agent and a York City fan, said the Archbishop and Manny Panther should concentrate on the church and football respectively, rather than politics.

He said: "Manny Panther should keep his mind on getting fit and ready for the play-offs, and keep his nose out of political matters. Who is he? People are not going to be fooled by someone using the colour of their skin to tell people not to vote for a political party."

On Dr Sentamu, he said: "He is entitled to his opinion, just as others are. But people are getting sick and tired of getting told who to and who not to vote for."