Manchester

Man Utd fan Howard Hobson guilty of racial abuse

Howard Hobson
Image caption Howard Hobson admitted making comments about Kenwyne Jones

A Manchester United fan has been banned from football matches for three years for shouting racist abuse at a Stoke City player during a match.

Howard Hobson of Weaver Walk, Openshaw, Manchester, was at Old Trafford for the game against Stoke on 31 January.

Trafford Magistrates Court heard he directed comments to Kenwyne Jones, a player who originates from Trinidad.

Hobson, 57, pleading guilty to a single charge of a racially-aggravated public order offence.

He told the court he was " deeply sorry", adding he was "not racist".

Eileen Rogers, prosecuting, told the court Hobson's behaviour was brought to the attention of club stewards at the match by a witness sitting near the defendant in the North Stand.

"During the first half, every time the Stoke City player Kenwyne Jones was tackled, or went down with injury, all of a sudden he heard voices shouting," she said.

'Branded a racist'

After the half-time interval when Hobson returned to his seat he was spoken to by stewards and taken away and then transferred to a police station in Salford.

Hobson, who is not a season ticket holder at Old Trafford, told officers he had come to the match straight from his job as a fork lift truck driver and drank four bottles of beer, but was not drunk.

He admitted making some comments about the Stoke player "in the heat of the moment" and accepted he used offensive words.

The 57-year-old said he could not remember using some of the words, but accepted what the witness had reported him as saying.

Rachel Goode, mitigating, said Hobson was "extremely embarrassed" by his behaviour.

"He has serious concerns he will lose his job as a result of this," she told the court.

"He has family and friends of mixed race and he's now branded a racist."

Hobson was fined £200 and ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.

The football banning order means he is not allowed to enter a football ground in England and Wales for three years or he could be arrested. He must also surrender his passport when England play internationals abroad.

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