Football fan could be jailed for racially abusing Forest Green Rovers player Jordan Garrick

The football fan admitted racially abusing Rovers player Jordan Garrick. Credit: PA Images

A convicted football fan could face jail after admitting racially abusing a black professional footballer, a court has heard.

Ryan Ferguson shouted the abuse at Jordan Garrick as the Forest Green Rovers player tackled a Fleetwood Town footballer.

He was heard by other players and stewards at the New Lawn ground in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, during the League One match on the evening of 18 April 2023.

The 23-year-old, who is from Liverpool and a Tranmere Rovers supporter, was quickly apprehended by security and when he was arrested by police gave officers false details.

Ferguson only admitted his real identity after he was arrested, Gloucestershire Magistrates’ Court heard.

The Forest Green Rovers player was left shaken after the incident. Credit: PA Images

It was then revealed he was subject of a five-year football banning order imposed in 2019 for pitch invasion and was prohibited from attending any matches.

He is currently banned from coming within 500 metres of any designated football stadium in a period of up to four hours before kick-off, during the match and up to four hours afterwards.

Sandra Massiah, prosecuting, told the court Mr Garrick was left shaken at being on the receiving end of the abuse.

“I was shocked at the words used against me and they are words no-one should have to ever hear,” he told police.

Ms Massiah said Ferguson had “multiple convictions” for failing to comply with the football banning order and the Crown would be applying for a new one.

“With the aggravating previous convictions, the Crown submit that the custody threshold is likely to be passed,” she added.

Ferguson, of Barberry Crescent, Liverpool, admitted charges of racially aggravated public order, failing to comply with a football banning order under the Football Spectators Act 1989 and obstructing a constable in the execution of their duty.

Neil Brooker, defending, said the defendant had attended the game with a ticket supplied by his cousin, who plays for Fleetwood Town.

Ferguson was released on conditional bail after admitting he racially abused Garrick. Credit: PA Images

“He tells me that in relation to why he attended the football match in the first instance, he thought he was allowed to as it was not the team he regularly supports, which is Tranmere Rovers,” Mr Brooker said.

“It seems he didn’t appreciate that. He accepts that is not the case.

"In relation to the racially aggravated offence, he can only apologise and regrets what he said, and is embarrassed by the words he used.

“He can only explain that he was frustrated by what he had seen on the pitch.”

Presiding Justice Andrew Hedges ordered pre-sentenced reports and adjourned the hearing until 2 October.

Addressing the defendant, Mr Hedges said: “I will tell you at this stage custody is not ruled out, so when you appear again all options are on the table.”

Ferguson was released on conditional bail.

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