Fan who confronted Rio Ferdinand given three-year football ban

Manchester United defender was confronted during victory over City

A Manchester City fan who stormed on to the football field to confront Rio Ferdinand at the end of last month's Manchester derby has been banned from attending matches for three years.

Matthew Stott, 21, was told he came close to going to prison, but instead his 56-day jail term was suspended for 12 months.

Stott had to be restrained by City goalkeeper Joe Hart from confronting Ferdinand, who was already bleeding from a cut 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 at City's Etihad Stadium when tempers boiled over.

TV footage of the incident was played at Manchester Magistrates Court showing Stott, who had sunk eight pints of lager before kick-off, trying to get at the United defender.

Andy Holt, prosecuting, told the court after police caught him and cuffed him 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.

As well as the football ban and suspended jail sentence, he was ordered to do 120 hours community service, pay £145 in costs and observe an 8pm to 6am home curfew for three months.

District Judge Richardson commended England goalkeeper Hart for quickly stopping Stott 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 he 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's fans.

The City season ticket holder, who had never been in trouble with the police before, said he had let his club down.

Officials at City immediately withdrew his season ticket and said later if he was convicted at court he would face a lifetime ban.

Millions of TV viewers watching the game televised live by Sky Sports, also saw United striker Wayne Rooney being forced to dodge an array of objects thrown in his direction as he took a corner.

The match ended in the ugly scenes when Robin van Persie's injury-time free-kick gave United the three points after City had previously fought back from 2-0 down.

Stott was sentenced today along with a number of other fans involved in trouble.

Turkey farmer Christopher Johnson, 52, of Ancoats Lane, Alderley Edge, Cheshire admitted threatening and abusive behaviour after invading the pitch and running towards United fans, gesturing, "come on" before his arrest.

He was given 100 hours community service, £145 in costs and a three-year football banning order.

Joshua Rushton, 17, from Farr Street, Edgeley, Stockport was given a £100 fine and ordered to pay £85 costs and given a three-year football banning order after pleading guilty to throwing a coin and a bottle at rival spectators at the ground.

Rushton was already serving a temporary three-match ban at the time of the derby for misbehaviour and should not have been in the stadium anyway.

District Judge Richardson allowed the Press to name the defendant, who is still a juvenile, following a legal challenge by Mike Keegan of the Manchester Evening News.

Rushton, who has a string of convictions, told the judge, "they can't put me in the paper" because he was not yet 18. But the judge, who had already warned Rushton about his "lip" decided he should be named. Rushton stormed out of court.

Manchester University student Sam Weatherby, 21, of Grant Street, Farnworth, Bolton, who is studying a sports management degree and works part-time at Asda, was given 100 hours community service and ordered to pay £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

Philip O'Leary, 24, of Heysbank Road, Disley, Stockport, got the same sentence after the pair broke their football banning orders by going into Manchester city centre on a day when United were playing a game.

Christopher O'Neil, 21, of Swainsthorpe Drive, Manchester, Andrew Martin, 20, of Northdale Drive, and Nicholas Morley, 21, of Chapel Lane, both Blackley, were all charged with being drunk and disorderly after trouble broke out at the Flying Horse pub in Blackley following the game.

All admitted the offence and were given a £60 fine with £80 costs to be taken out of their state benefits.

PA

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