Belfast Telegraph

Scottish police arrest man over rant of hatred from stands aimed at NI star Josh

By Allan Preston

A man has been arrested for allegedly shouting anti-Irish abuse at a Northern Ireland footballer.

The incident happened on Saturday at Edinburgh's Tynecastle stadium where Josh Magennis was playing for Kilmarnock against home team Heart of Midlothian.

After the match the Northern Ireland international complained to police that he had been targeted with anti-Irish abuse by someone in the stands.

Police have now arrested a 48-year-old man and charged him with offensive behaviour and an offence under the Threatening Communications Act.

He is to appear in court at a later date and bail conditions say he must stay half-a-mile from any stadia where Hearts are playing.

Constable Gavin Stupart of Wester Hailes Police said: "Since Kilmarnock FC reported this matter we have been carrying our extensive enquiries alongside Hearts, and I would like to thank them for their assistance and support now we have made an arrest.

"Offensive behaviour at football matches will not be tolerated and whenever we identify those responsible we will ensure they are brought before the court."

Magennis (25) is in his second year with Killie and has scored 10 goals this season.

Last night he was back on the pitch as Kilmarnock hosted Ross County at Rugby Park.

With police proceedings now active, he told the Belfast Telegraph he was unable to comment at present.

Hearts said in a statement on Saturday that Magennis had alleged the abuse concerned nationality.

"The alleged abusive remark related to the player being Irish. The player is from Northern Ireland," the club said.

"To clarify, this allegation does not involve the player's colour, religion or sexuality.

"Senior figures from both clubs were present when the player made the complaint and discussed the matter fully thereafter.

"Heart of Midlothian FC has a number of players of different nationality playing in the current squad and is very proud of the international make-up of our team.

"We will fully support any police investigation."

Kilmarnock manager Lee Clark told the BBC that despite the incident it would be business as usual for Magennis.

"It is in the hands of the police," said Clark.

"It is a police matter. Josh is in a happy place as a person, as a lad. He has done what he had to do and that is the way it will remain."

The former Blackpool boss added: "It's being dealt with. Josh is dealing with it in the right way.

"Both clubs have dealt with it in the right way.

"It's ongoing now, so I just move on in terms of the football.

"Josh has handled the incident like an adult should.

"It didn't affect him during the game.

"He carried on being professional. There is no issue."

Earlier this year Ann Budge, the owner of the Edinburgh club, vowed to clamp down on the offensive behaviour of "a minority" of supporters.

The club has been forced to have a police presence at every home game, costing it an extra £50,000.

Ms Budge expressed her fury in January after some Hearts fans fought with rivals before a 6-0 win over Motherwell.

"I cannot begin to tell you how angry this makes me, when we are working so hard to put the club back at the heart of the community," she said.

"Instead of talking proudly about the team's superb performance, I am instead having to hold meetings regarding how we are going to address this behaviour problem."

Belfast Telegraph

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