• Premier League

Manchester pitch invader banned for three years

ESPN staff
January 4, 2013
Joe Hart restrains a fan during December's Manchester derby © Getty Images

The Manchester City fan who went on to the Etihad Stadium pitch to confront Rio Ferdinand at the end of last month's Manchester derby has been banned from attending matches for three years.

Appearing before Manchester Magistrates Court, 21-year-old Matthew Stott was told he had been close to going to prison, but his 56-day sentence was suspended for 12 months.

City goalkeeper Joe Hart had to restrain Stott from confronting Ferdinand, who was already bleeding from a cut to the forehead caused by a coin thrown from the stands at the end of the match.

Ferdinand had been celebrating Robin van Persie's late winner for United when tempers boiled over. Television footage of the incident was played at the court, showing Stott - who had drunk eight pints of lager before kick-off - trying to get at the United defender.

Andy Holt, prosecuting, told the court that, after police had caught and handcuffed Stott on the pitch, he shouted at the officers: "F*** off you Munich bastards! F*** off you Munich twats!''

Stott, a landscape gardener of Southfields, Knutsford, pleaded guilty to encroaching on the field of play and using insulting words or behaviour during the incident on December 9.

His father, who attended the match with his son, sat in the public gallery during sentencing by District Judge Paul Richardson. Stott was also ordered to do 120 hours of community service, pay £145 in costs and observe an 8pm to 6am home curfew for three months.

District Judge Richardson praised England goalkeeper Hart for stopping Stott from getting at Ferdinand. He said it was "difficult to associate'' the glowing character references for Stott with what he had seen on screen. He added: "He chose to attack somebody on a football pitch. But for the timely and appropriate intervention of the City goalkeeper, the situation would have been a lot worse and could have triggered a serious incident of disorder.''

Rebecca Caulfield, defending Stott, said he had drunk eight pints of lager before the incident, which was not planned, and could now not remember what he had done. She added: "He's lost his job, he's received death threats and his family has suffered intimidation by members of the public, in person, by telephone, camping outside his father's flat, and threats on Facebook.''

Stott issued an apology through his solicitor the day after the match, saying he was "extremely ashamed'' of his actions and apologised to Ferdinand and United fans.

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