TWO Sunderland AFC fans who admitted their part in clashes with police have been spared football banning orders.
Christopher Burdess and Gavin Foster were part of a large group arrested after violence flared at Newcastle Central Station in August 2009, as they made their way back from a pre-season friendly in Edinburgh.
Police said an operation was in place that day to ensure Black Cats fans were kept away from Newcastle supporters, and “ushered safely” to the Metro station.
Prosecutor Christopher Knox told Newcastle Crown Court it is thought that the meeting of the two groups had been arranged, but they had been unable to prove it.
“The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming to suggest that there was an active plan in place,” he said.
He also said that Burdess, 22, was much more involved in the violence than Foster, 23.
“Burdess was much closer to the action and more visible on the photographs taken from the CCTV footage. You can see Foster quite clearly shouting.”
Burdess, of Countess Close, Seaham, pleaded guilty to affray and Foster, of Glebe Drive, Seaham, admitted using threatening words or behaviour.
Mitigating, Stuart Graham said of Burdess: “There was no actual violence used, and this wasn’t pre-planned.
“This defendant has no previous or related football convictions – he is not a risk supporter.
“Here, we have a young man who is hard-working. He has a good job – a very skilled job – as a land operator.”
He added that Foster was also hard-working, and has a job in industrial cleaning.
Sparing them both of jail and a football banning order, Judge Guy Whitburn said: “Sadly, amongst certain supporters of both Newcastle and Sunderland there has been a long standing antipathy in fighting or abuse.
“In this particular incident, both teams were not playing against each other.
“I have come to the conclusion in both of your cases that I can treat you in a way that does not involve a football banning order.
“You have effectively served two years of a football banning order already.”
Judge Whitburn ordered Burdess to pay £500 court costs, and imposed a 12 month community order with a requirement of 200 hours’ unpaid work.
Foster was ordered to pay £100 towards court costs and was fined £250 and was given a 12-month community order.
Eleven other fans were granted bail to be sentenced at a later date.