A BLACK Cats fan who made an offensive monkey gesture during an SAFC game has been banned from the Stadium of Light.
Liam Jones’s three-year football banning order will also see him barred from entering any other Premiership ground after he admitted the racist abuse while in the crowd watching the Black Cats take on West Bromich Albion.
Jones had initially denied the offensive behaviour on November 24, when the home side lost 4-2, but pleaded guilty at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court on the day of his trial.
He was arrested 24 hours after the Echo printed a photograph of him making the gesture at Romelu Lukaku when the Belgian striker scored for West Brom at the Stadium of Light.
The 22-year-old, of East Vines in Hendon, was charged with causing racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress.
After he was questioned by police, he claimed he had been doing a “chicken dance” while in the stand.
He was due to stand trial in June this year, but the case was adjourned until this month, when he changed his plea just before the case was due to begin.
Magistrates slapped Jones with an 18-month conditional discharge and imposed a three-year football banning order, which means he will not be able to attend any Premiership games. The sentence was welcomed by Northumbria Police, whose officers investigated the initial allegations.
Chief Superintendent Steve Neill said: “Racist behaviour of any kind will not be tolerated and Northumbria Police will fully investigate any reports made to us.
“We know people who are responsible for these actions are part of a small minority and would continue to encourage anyone who sees this kind of behaviour to report it to us and help us rid football of any racism.”
Charity Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) said the case showed that such conduct was unacceptable.
Paul Kearns, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Show Racism the Red Card welcomes this verdict and we are pleased to see that the issue of racism is being taken seriously.
“SRtRC has delivered educational workshops to thousands of young people in Sunderland since 2004 and hope that this verdict acts as a deterrent to others, and once again serves to demonstrate that racism has no place in our society.”
SAFC banned Jones from its ground while the investigation was carried out, which is in line with its policy.