Sunderland AFC fan banned from watching Black Cats home and away for three years after invading Stadium of Light pitch in win over Crewe Alexandra

A “ringleader” football fan who celebrated a Sunderland goal by running onto the pitch has been banned from watching his team home and away for three years.

By Gareth Crickmer
Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 2:32 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 2:32 pm

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Ross Steabler’s antics at the Stadium of Light in his side’s 2-0 win over Crewe Alexandra on Saturday, March 12, were copied by other supporters, magistrates said.

They told Steabler, 23, of Barrow Street, Town End Farm, there had been an upsurge in similar poor behaviour at soccer venues which needed to be curbed.

The South Tyneside court also banned him from attending England international matches during the same time span.

Stadium of Light.

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John Lee, chair of the bench, said: “We all like to get excited when they score and even more excited when they win a game.

“There would have been 30,000 at the game and you were a ringleader. Because of your actions, a number of people charged onto the pitch after you.

“This type of behaviour is getting more prevalent at football grounds around the country.

“We believe that issuing the banning order will send out a clear signal to the football community that if you run onto the pitch during a game, you risk being banned.”

Prosecutor Greg Flaxen told the hearing: “You’ll have seen this many times – a goal is scored, and people run onto the pitch.

“Sunderland have scored, it’s 1-0 against Crewe Alexandra. The defendant ran onto the pitch and celebrated with several players.

“There’s been no violence used but the risk comes, and I’ll say this candidly, when one person runs onto the pitch and others see this as a good opportunity and follow suit.”

Steabler pleaded guilty to going onto a playing area at a football match, in contravention of the Football (Offences) Act 1991.

Charlton Carr, defending, urged magistrates not to ban his client, telling them he had no previous criminal convictions or cautions and had not used violence.

He added: “It was spur of the moment. Sunderland score, it’s a rare occurrence. He’s a young man who got excited when his team scored a goal.

“He is in employment. He doesn’t fit the criteria of a football hooligan. He’s a man who cares about his team and who loves football.

“He’s not a violent man, he’s not in a gang. He’s learnt his lesson. I’ve seen a photograph and it’s like he’s trying to celebrate.”

Steabler’s banning order prevents him going within a designated area of the Stadium of Light in the four hours before and after a home game.

He must also not go within a five-mile radius of any UK football ground within 24-hours before or 12-hours after kick-off of a game involving Sunderland or England.

He must also report to a police station in Sunderland within five days of his court case to provide certain personal details.

For the offence of running onto the pitch, he was fined £115, with £85 court costs and a £34 victim surcharge.