Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Pitch invader apologises as nine are charged over crowd trouble during Manchester derby

The Manchester City fan who ran on to the pitch to try to confront Rio Ferdinand faces a lifetime ban from the club despite his apology.

City today confirmed that Matthew Stott, 21, has had his season ticket removed for the rest of the season and faces a lifetime ban if found guilty in court of a charge of pitch encroachment.



"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.



Stott, described by his solicitor as "not a stereotypical drunken football fan", said in a statement he would be writing to United defender Ferdinand to apologise.



Ferdinand had blood pouring from a cut above his eye after being hit by a coin following Robin van Persie's late derby winner at the Etihad Stadium, and the United defender then had to deal with Stott coming on to the pitch towards him.



Stott had to be restrained by City goalkeeper Joe Hart and was arrested and subsequently charged by police.



In a statement released by his solicitors, Stott, a landscape gardener from Knutsford, said: "I would like to apologise to all those affected by my actions yesterday, particularly Mr Ferdinand and the other players.



"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.



"I would like to thank Joe Hart for his actions when I came on the pitch.



"I have been a fan of Manchester City all my life and I have been a season ticket holder for three years and I attend the games with my father. I have had the same seat in the section next to the away fans for those three years."



Stott is now facing a possible banning order but his solicitor said he had never been in trouble before and was not the "stereotypical drunken football fan".



Rebecca Caulfield, solicitor at Stephen Lickrish & Associates, said: "Mr Stott is a hard-working man who has held a full-time job as a landscape gardener for four years and lives with his partner of five years.



"He has never been to court before and has never been in trouble with any of the stewards at Manchester City before, or at any other ground.



"He is extremely remorseful and is mortified by his behaviour, which is completely out of character.



"This was a momentary mistake by Mr Stott, which has led to him being charged, brought shame on his family and will bring sanctions on the club that Mr Stott has supported all his life.



"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."



Police have also charged eight other people in relation to the trouble. The charges include a racially aggravated public order offence, pitch encroachment, breach of football banning orders and other public offences, including being drunk and disorderly.



A police spokesman said they were continuing to work with City to identify the offender who threw a coin at Ferdinand.



Football Association chairman David Bernstein described the incidents as "deplorable".



He told Sky Sports News: "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... in the strongest way we can.



"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."

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