'Hooligan' who broke banning order eight times facing jail for racial abuse of Forest Green player

The 23-year-old was apprehended by security staff and arrested after hurling racist abuse at a Forest Green Rovers player. Credit: BPM Media

A convicted football lout who admitted racially abusing a professional footballer has been warned to expect jail time.

Ryan Ferguson, 23, shouted at Jordan Garrick “fill that f****** c**n in” as the Forest Green Rovers player tussled with a Fleetwood Town opponent.

The racial abuse was heard by other Forest Green Rovers players and stewards at the New Lawn ground in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, during the first half of the League One match on 18 April.

Ferguson, a Tranmere Rovers supporter, was quickly apprehended by security. When he was arrested by the police, he gave officers false details.

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

It then came to light he was the subject of a five-year football banning order which was imposed in 2019 for pitch invasion and prohibited him from attending any matches.

He is 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.

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

Forest Green player Jordan Garrick was the victim of Ferguson's verbal abuse Credit: Press Association

“At the time I thought his behaviour was really stupid and embarrassing that he would say something so stupid,” he told police.

“I was shocked and disgusted to hear something so racist being shouted at me.”

Ms Drew said Ferguson had now breached his football banning order eight times and the Crown would be applying for a new one.

At a previous hearing 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.

Samir Tahir, defending, said he had advised his client a custodial sentence was the likely outcome.

“This would make the eighth breach of a football banning order," he said.

“Clearly, he has not taken that order seriously at all.”

Mr Tahir said Ferguson was “quite immature” and held “outdated” views.

“He has grown up in an environment where he got into football at a very young age,” he said.

“He has been involved with this particular group of Tranmere Rovers fans who hold some quite anti-social views.

“People just don’t become racist, and it seems he has learnt over time while growing up.

“For some reason he thinks this is normal and acceptable behaviour.

“It’s not.”

He added: “Mr Ferguson recognises that anything he does with football gets him into trouble.”

Presiding Justice Clive Powell said the offending was so serious the court’s powers of sentence were insufficient and believed he should be jailed for more than six months.

“You are what your grandfather might have recognised in the 1970s as a traditional football hooligan and that type of behaviour is entirely inappropriate in the 21st century," he said.

“We have no doubt whatsoever that the crown court judge will take into account all the circumstances and in our view a sentence in excess of six months is appropriate in the circumstances of this case.”

Ferguson was released on conditional bail and told to appear at Gloucester Crown Court for sentencing on 12 December.