A Manchester City fan has lost his job and been banned from football games for three years after throwing a PIE into the crowd during a match. Aaron Johnson, 30, claimed he was hit by the pastry and sent it back in a ‘moment of madness’ during the Champions League game. against Sporting Lisbon.
Tensions were high between fans on both sides with missiles being launched, injuring two City fans. Some 47 people were sent off from the game, 100 fans were refused entry to the Etihad Stadium and a number of fans were arrested.
When the final whistle sounded, a man, later identified as Johnson, was seen by officers throwing a number of items at Sporting fans, including a cup filled with cash and a pie, the court heard Manchester Trial Court. It is not known if anyone was injured by the flying pastry. He has since lost his job as a chef due to his outburst.
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Johnson, a lifelong City of Stockport fan, pleaded guilty to launching a missile at a spectator area. He was fined £40 and banned from attending football matches in the UK and abroad for three years.
Eileen Rogers, prosecuting, told the court that after allowing fans to return to stadiums following the coronavirus pandemic at the end of 2021, there was a “dramatic increase” in violent unrest and behavior antisocial during games. She said the topic has been documented and widely debated among various members of parliament and in the media.
On March 9, kick-off took place at 8 p.m. and police classified the match as a “medium risk” to public safety and public order due to the presence of various fans. Ms Rogers said more than 51,000 supporters attended, including 13,000 Sporting supporters.
“Objects were thrown by both sides, City and the opposing team, into the lower part of the stadium and were observed to be abusive towards each other and told by the police to stop,” she said. Several items, including coins, were thrown towards the lower divide, officers had to stand between themselves and were told to wear helmets for protection.
“The North West Ambulance Service treated two City supporters who had been hit by missiles. Tensions were high and the police were vigilant.
At around 9:50 p.m., when the match ended, officers began removing Sporting supporters from the City Supporters’ Stadium in Blocks 109 and 110, at which time Johnson was seen tossing the pie. He also threw a cup containing liquid and it was “possible” that he threw other objects, Ms Rogers said.
Johnson was tipped off by police who said they saw him throwing an object, to which he replied, “I threw a pie and a drink.” He was handcuffed and arrested, while continuing to tell officers that he had “only thrown away a pie and a drink”.
The prosecutor added that missile-launching offenses are likely to cause or contribute to violent unrest and anti-social behavior and fuel “unrest” against opposing team fans during and after the game.
She said there was a risk of further incidents of violence or an escalation of violence. “Also, families attending with young children who want to enjoy the game may be put at risk,” she added.
Johnson later told officers in a police interview that he “knew what he did was stupid” and that he had always been a City supporter. He said he had no previous convictions.
“It was an isolated case, it was a moment of madness,” said his lawyer, Nnamdi Inegbu. Johnson had been a “lifetime supporter”, going to his first game at just two weeks old and holding a season ticket from the age of five, the court heard.
He had to give up his subscription in 2014 and has since lost his job as a chef due to the infractions. Mr Inegbu said there was an “element of provocation” from both sides during the game.
“He will say that the pie he threw was an object that landed on him. It landed on his face and his clothes and he brought it back,” he said.
“He deeply regrets his actions and acknowledges that he let himself down, let his friend down and let Manchester City down. He can’t believe he put himself in this position and is disgusted with his actions.
“He understands why the police have a zero tolerance approach to this behavior and he wishes, through me, to apologize to Manchester City, the players, the supporters, his friends and his family.”
Manchester judges fined Johnson, of Hanover Towers, £40 and ordered him to pay a victim fine surcharge of £34 and £85 in court costs. He was also given a three-year football ban.
The conditions of the order include that he must not enter any premises for the purpose of watching a football match, that he must surrender his passport for any match outside the UK and that he must not present within one kilometer of any stadium on City matchdays within four hours before or four hours after.
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