Two Manchester City supporters have received five-year football banning orders from the courts and lifetime bans from the Premier League title holders after they admitted using racist language.
Ian Baldry, 58, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, made a racist comment towards City winger Raheem Sterling as he celebrated scoring a goal in a Premier League home game against Bournemouth in December 2018.
His friend, James McConnell, 57, of Newdale Road, Manchester, was heard making racist remarks about two match stewards at the same game at the Etihad Stadium.
Witnesses described McConnell as being drunk and abusive throughout the first half and regularly using foul language to insult the players on the pitch, said Greater Manchester
He went on to make a comment about the race of a Bournemouth player, reportedly defender Tyrone Mings.
A fellow fan confronted McConnell about his behaviour and later reported him to stewards.
McConnell was also spotted shouting similar comments at a City player who took a corner at a home game against Newcastle two months earlier, said police.
On Friday, both men were sentenced at Manchester Magistrates’ Court after they pleaded guilty to causing racially aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress.
Baldry, of Bradley Street, was also ordered to perform 200 hours of community service, while McConnell was told to complete 250 hours of unpaid work in the community.
Following sentencing, Detective Constable Chris Preston said: “There are few words that can be used to describe the behaviour of McConnell and Baldry during this incident but their actions were absolutely disgusting.
“For them to brazenly and loudly use racist language in front of numerous other spectators as though it was completely normal is astonishing.
“The fact that they were quite happy to also racially abuse players from the team they claim to support just goes to show the close-mindedness of these individuals, and I want to pay tribute to those fans who identified what was happening and raised the issue with a nearby steward.
“Racism at football matches simply will not be tolerated by Greater Manchester Police and we are prepared to take positive action against anyone seeking to take part in this kind of behaviour.”
In a statement, Manchester City said: “Following the sentencing of Ian Baldry and James McConnell at Manchester Magistrates’ Court and in line with Manchester City’s zero-tolerance approach to discrimination, lifetime bans have been issued by the club.
“The club would like to thank Manchester City supporters for reporting both incidents and their cooperation throughout the investigations.”