City fan facing lifetime ban
Soccer:The Manchester City fan who ran on to the pitch to try to confront Rio Ferdinand on Sunday faces a lifetime ban from the club. City have confirmed Matthew Stott has had his season ticket removed for the rest of the season and faces a permanent ban if found guilty in court of the charge of pitch encroachment.
The 21-year-old landscape gardener issued an apology through his solicitors today, in which he said he was “extremely ashamed” of his behaviour, having tried to confront the Manchester United defender on the pitch after the player had been struck in the head with a missile thrown from the crowd.
His contrition, however, fell on deaf ears.
"His season card has been immediately removed for the rest of the season and he has been charged to appear at court. If he is found guilty he faces a lifetime ban," said a City spokesman this evening.
Stott, described by his solicitor as "not a stereotypical drunken football fan", said he intends to write to United defender Ferdinand to apologise.
“I would like to apologise to all those affected by my actions yesterday, particularly Mr Ferdinand and the other players,” he said. “I am extremely ashamed of my actions. I have let myself down, my family down, my fellow fans down and Manchester City Football Club.
“I intend to write personally to Mr Ferdinand to express my extreme regret and apologies and also apologise to Manchester United and their fans.
He thanked City goalkeeper Joe Hart for restraining him when he approached Ferdinand.
His solicitor Rebecca Caulfield added: "Mr Stott will accept the consequences of his actions. He would like to make clear that he is not the stereotypical drunken football fan but a fan that attends games with his father. He is embarrassed and ashamed of his temporary moment of madness that has brought wider consequences on the club he supports and his fellow fans."
Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Police today confirmed nine people have been charged in connection with trouble at yesterday’s derby. Among the charges faced by the nine people are racially aggravated and public order offences, and pitch encroachment.
Police are still hunting for the person who threw the coin that cut Ferdinand above the eye as he celebrated United’s late winner scored by Robin van Persie in the 3-2 victory.
English Football Association chairman David Bernstein today described the incidents as “deplorable” and said they must be “dealt with severely”.
Bernstein told Sky Sports News: “It is deplorable to see those incidents and to see Rio Ferdinand with blood on his face is absolutely terrible. I think it’s disturbing that we’re seeing a recurrence of these types of incidents. We’ve had racial abuse issues, the odd pitch incursion, things being thrown at players. It’s very unacceptable and has to be dealt with severely.”
Bernstein promised tough action from the FA to try to stamp out the chances of further incidents occurring.
“It’s very disappointing: so much of football is so good, great things are happening in football as a whole, but these odd incidents get the headlines and understandably because they are serious matters, they are unforgivable things,” he added. “When you think of the millions watching football every week, or involved in football, to see it hijacked by these incidents is awful so we have to deal with it in the strongest way we can.
“It’s a difficult social problem. I think there’s a copycat thing: something happens and other people copy it and this sort of thing can spiral. To my mind it’s for the FA, the whole game of football and the authorities to work together to deal with this most severe matter. I believe that if necessary these people need to go to the court and be banned for life, if they’re found out.
“It’s important that matters are brought to a head and people understand that there is no room for this in football at all, and we’ll do everything we can within the FA. I know the rest of football feels the same, it’s a blot on the game.”