Newcastle fan escapes ban for racist abuse of Mido

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The Independent Online

Middlesbrough and the Football Association have expressed their disappointment that a Newcastle United fan who admitted hurling racist abuse at the Egyptian striker Mido was not handed a banning order.

Barry Norman Hutchinson, 49, of Silver Lonnen, Fenham, admitted an offence of racist or obscene chanting under the Football Offences Act 1991 during the Magpies' 0-0 derby draw at Middlesbrough on 29 November at Teesside Magistrates' Court yesterday. His 23-year-old son, Barry Andrew Hutchinson, denies the same charge.

Hutchinson Snr was fined £270 with £45 costs, but escaped a banning order that would have stopped him attending games anywhere in the country.

Both Middlesbrough and the FA expressed concern their hard-line policies had not been supported by magistrates. A spokesman for Boro said: "We are disappointed that a banning order has not been issued in this case. It makes it very difficult for football clubs to have a robust anti-racism policy without the support of the courts.

"Despite this setback, we will continue to be vigilant and supportive of the police in tackling all discriminatory and anti-social behaviour. The individual concerned will also be banned from the Riverside [Stadium]."

An FA spokesman added: "The FA is disappointed that a football banning order was not imposed in this case. It is important to send out a strong message that racist and discriminatory chanting is totally unacceptable, and that anyone found guilty will face serious consequences."

The manager of Middlesbrough, Gareth Southgate, may have to fight off a series of suitors as he attempts to strengthen his squad during next month's transfer window.

The Teessiders have already found themselves at the centre of speculation that Wigan will test their resolve to hang on to Mido, while Tottenham have once again been linked with a big-money move for the England winger Stewart Downing.

Southgate arrived at his desk this morning to read reports that Chelsea are lining up an £8m bid for the Turkey international Tuncay Sanli, who cost him nothing two summers ago and who has been a major hit.

Boro do not comment on such reports, although the club line remains that none of their most prominent players are available for sale. However, their manager is experienced enough to know that each of them has his price – and that in Tuncay's case will be significantly north of £8m – and if those valuations are reached, he and chairman Steve Gibson will have decisions to make.

They did just that in August last year when they accepted Everton's £11.25m bid for Ayegbeni Yakubu, although they did so only when it became clear that the Nigerian's heart was no longer with the club.

Mido, a £6m signing from Spurs, has made little secret of his dissatisfaction at playing only a bit-part at the Riverside after revealing Wigan's interest in a loan deal during the summer.

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