IAN Evatt believes social media companies should be doing more to stop online abuse.

Despite the club currently riding high in third spot in League Two, the Bolton Wanderers boss claims both he and most of his players have been subjected to online abuse this season.

His words come after midfielder Marcus Maddison cut short a loan spell at the UniBol after struggling with his mental well-being. He is now considering his future in football, citing the “abuse, pressures and monotony” of the last two years.

Maddison thanked Evatt and staff at Wanderers for their support during his two-and-a-half months at the club.

Asked whether social media had been a factor in the player’s decision to leave, Evatt said: “I don’t know is the answer, but I know and understand he received heavy criticism, personal criticism in the past, and this season. We all have.

“Some of us feel strong enough to cope and deal with it. You welcome football critique. But when it becomes personal there is a problem. We need to be more cautious.

“People should really consider what they say and until they are held accountable for their words then it is a free for all.

“Me, most of my players, if not all of them, have at some stage received personal criticism on social media.

“Now if it is football-related criticism, that is part of the job. We accept that all day long because football is a game of opinions, they are welcomed. But when it becomes personal, it is important that people understand what they are saying.

“We have to as a society, including the social media companies, start making people accountable for their words.”

Evatt said he was happy for his players to use social media like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, but feels the platforms will become more damaging in time.

“I would never stop them (from using social media),” he said. “It is their call and their decision.

“People will read positives and negatives. And if they are football issues then I have absolutely no problem. Football is just a game that welcomes debate.

“If people are critiquing my job as a manager, or players’ performance then that is the nature of the beast. When it becomes deeper, or personal, it can cause severe damage.

“We have to understand what is being said, the words you use. Think about the other person and their feelings. Social media companies have to police it better and whether that comes from the government, I don’t know.

“You should not be allowed to make up a random account and start firing abuse at someone.

“We have to learn our lessons. Social media networks are becoming a pretty negative place.”