Sunderland fan who invaded pitch during derby win over Newcastle is spared football banning order

Steven Fletcher's goal sparked a pitch invasion, which Stephen Green joined in with.
Steven Fletcher's goal sparked a pitch invasion, which Stephen Green joined in with.

A Sunderland season ticket holder who ran onto the Stadium of Light pitch during the Black Cats’ 3-0 drubbing of arch-rivals Newcastle will have to sit out the return fixture.

Stephen Green escaped a football banning order when he appeared at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court, but was made subject to a year’s community order which includes a condition barring him from any derby match for the next 12 months. Green, 36, of Ford Avenue, South Hylton, had admitted going into the playing area at the stadium on a previous occasion and appeared for sentence.

John McGlone, prosecuting, said Green had been among a group who had run onto the pitch after Steven Fletcher had scored the hosts’ third goal.

He had been grabbed by a steward and handed over to police, who he told: “I know I should not have done it.”

Tom Morgan, for Green, opposed a prosecution application for a banning order and told the court his client had been caught up in the atmosphere of the day: “In the excitement, his particular area of the stadium, it seems, has run onto the pitch.”

Green has been going to games for 20 years and had been a season ticket holder for most of the that time, said Mr Morgan. He had no previous football-related convictions.

“Football is something that is very important to the defendant,” said Mr Morgan.

“He immediately realised he had done something wrong when he was accosted by a steward and he is very ashamed of being in court in relation to this offence.”

District Judge Roger Elsey said the application was for a category two order – which meant the police had no intelligence suggesting Green had been involved in football-related offending before – but it was important to prevent trouble during derby games.

“I have to balance the need to prevent disorder with the fact there is no previous intelligence,” he said.

In addition to the community order, Green was ordered to pay £420 in fines, costs and court charges.