Ban for Newcastle United fan who chanted about Munich air disaster after Manchester City draw

Blake of Wantage Avenue, North Shields, admitted making offensive comments about the Munich air disaster.
James Blake at court where he pleaded guilty to a public order offence relating to comments he made about the Munich air disaster. Credit: PA

A Newcastle fan has been banned from football matches for three years after admitting making offensive comments about the Munich air disaster at a game against Manchester City.

James Blake, 42, was seen making comments in the background of a Youtuber's video following Newcastle’s win against Manchester City at St James' Park in September 2023.

Magistrates in North Shields were shown the footage in which Blake, wearing a Newcastle shirt, can be seen jumping into background of the shot shouting "what about Man United eh? Air disasters, air disasters".

That night Newcastle were drawn against Manchester United in the Carabo Cup.

Eight Manchester United players were among 23 people who died in the Munich plane crash in February 1958.

Blake, of Wantage Avenue, North Shields, pleaded guilty to a public order offence at court on Thursday (4 January).

James Blake was captured making the offensive remarks on camera as he interrupted a Youtuber making a video after the game.

His solicitor, Dave Parish, said the comments were foolish and his client was intoxicated. He said the video was recorded after the draw and at this point Newcastle fans did not know they would be playing Manchester United in the next round.

Mr Parish told the court Blake's comments were not intended to cause hurt. He added Blake had spent the day drinking with Manchester City fans and had picked up on the chants they were making.

He told North Tyneside Magistrates' Court Blake apologised unreservedly.

The court heard Blake, who is a self-employed painter and decorator, has already been banned from Newcastle United games and has lost his season ticket. The solicitor also said he had received death threats.

Blake was sentenced to a banning order from football for three years. He was fined £400 plus a £160 surcharge and court costs of £620.

Talking about Blake’s sentence, Superintendent Paul Walters, of Northumbria Police, asked fans to be mindful of the lasting consequences their actions can have.

He said: “This kind of hateful speech has absolutely no place in our communities or online, and we know this kind of behaviour isn’t representative of the overwhelming majority of football fans.

“Many of you will have seen the original video circulating, and we would like to thank those of you who reported it to us in the first instance and allowed us to act."

James Blake has been banned from attending matches for three years - and has had his Newcastle United season ticket revoked. Credit: Northumbria Police

He added: “I am therefore pleased that the seriousness of James Blake’s offence has been recognised by the courts and I am grateful for the restrictions which are now stringently placed on him.

“I hope this reinforces our commitment to taking action against anybody who commits this type of crime – it will not be tolerated and we will do all we can to put perpetrators before the courts.

“I would like to thank everyone who played their part in this particular case, including the team of officers who worked tirelessly to secure justice as well as our colleagues at Newcastle United."

Blake has also had his Newcastle United season ticket revoked.

A Newcastle United spokesperson said: "Tragedy-related chanting and gesturing is completely unacceptable and Newcastle United is committed to working with authorities and the wider football community to eradicate it."

If any member of the public sees, reads or hears offensive, racist, or homophobic language at fixtures or online, please report it to police online or by calling 101 or report online via the ‘Report’ pages of the Northumbria Police website.

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