Racist abuse at match sees Stevenage FC fan banned from all organised football

The football banning order was imposed at Stevenage Magistrates' Court.

The football banning order was imposed at Stevenage Magistrates' Court. - Credit: Archant

A 68-year-old Stevenage FC supporter who admitted hurling racist abuse at a home game has been banned from all organised football matches.

Laurence Tait, of Rowan Crescent in Stevenage, pleaded guilty to throwing racially aggravated threats or abuse at the club’s Lamex Stadium when he appeared before magistrates in the town last week.

The offence occurred at the Broadhall Way ground on Boxing Day, when Stevenage lost 2-1 to Cambridge United in a League Two fixture.

Tait will be barred from all matches both domestically and abroad for the next three years after the magistrates, chaired by Nigel Pollard, ruled that this would help prevent violence or disorder.

The pensioner, whose guilty plea was taken into account, must also pay a £293 fine, £85 costs and £30 surcharge – a total of £408.

A spokesman for Stevenage FC said afterwards: “Stevenage FC firmly believes in inclusion for all and would like to reiterate that there is no place for this type of behaviour at the Lamex Stadium.

“We are pleased to see this matter taken seriously by the authorities and we will continue to work in line with the EFL Equality Code of Practice.”

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According to figures released by the Home Office in November last year, there were three banning orders in effect for Stevenage supporters as of August 1, 2016 – one of the lowest in the English Football League – with two of those orders newly imposed during the 2015-16 season.

The data also indicates that during the 2015-16 season there were only four football-related arrests for Stevenage fans, all at away matches, and none relating to racist abuse.

From 2011 to 2016 across England and Wales, there were 136 supporters arrested for racist or indecent chanting – fewer than two per cent of all football-related arrests.

The English club whose supporters have the highest number of banning orders is Newcastle United, with 124 as of August last year, with Chelsea and Millwall fans following on 60 and 57 respectively.