Two football fans that used racist language to describe players during a match have been sentenced
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James McConnell (02/05/1962), of Newdale Road, Levenshulme, and Ian Baldry (25/05/1961), of Bradley Street, Bradford, were sentenced earlier today (26/09/19) at Manchester Magistrates Court after both pleaded guilty to racially aggravated public order. McConnell also pleaded guilty to assault.
On Saturday 1 December 2018, McConnell was sat in the Colin Bell Stand at the Etihad Stadium watching the Manchester City v Bournemouth match, when he was heard using racist language to describe two stewards almost immediately after the game started.
Witnesses describe him as being drunk and abusive throughout the first half, and regularly using foul language to insult the players on the pitch.
At half time, McConnell was joined by two of his friends - one of which was Baldry - and the abusive behaviour continued.
During the second half, one of the Bournemouth players was stood close to the Colin Bell Stand when McConnell loudly made a comment about the race of the player. Later in the half, Baldry was heard using racist language to describe a Manchester City player.
Having heard enough of their vile comments, another fan confronted McConnell and told him that the language he was using was unacceptable and he needed to stop being racist.
McConnell took issue with being called out for his disgusting behaviour and became aggressive and threatened the man, the victim was led away by his friend a short time later but the abuse sadly continued.
After the victim spoke with stewards to report what had happened, McConnell continued goading him from afar, making rude hand gestures in his direction.
Although his behaviour at the game horrified those around him, this was not the first time McConnell had been seen or heard using racist language towards a player.
He had previously been seen shouting racist comments in the direction of a Manchester City player as he took a corner against Newcastle on 1 September 2018. Given the close proximity between the pitch and McConnell’s seat in the stand, it is entirely possible that the player heard the comments.
At the conclusion of today’s hearing, McConnell was sentenced to 250 hours of unpaid community work, 16 weeks custodial suspended sentence and a five year banning order and Baldry to 200 hours of unpaid community work and a five year banning order.
Detective Constable Chris Preston of GMP’s City of Manchester Division, 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.
“Thankfully people like McConnell and Baldry make up only a small minority of spectators attending football matches, and they don’t reflect the wider crowd of law abiding members of the public seeking to enjoy a trip out to watch their favourite team.
“However, 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.”