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Gloucestershire Business News

Jailed: racist abuser at Forest Green Rovers match

A football thug who racially abused a Forest Green Rovers player during a match at the club's Nailsworth stadium was yesterday jailed at Gloucester Crown Court for nine months.

Ryan Ferguson, 24, of Netherton, Merseyside, was attending the April match against Fleetwood Town as an away fan when FGR players and stewards heard him cry racist words directed at Mr Garrick while he was locked in a tackle against a Fleetwood player.

Stewards at the goalless game on April 18th quickly intervened to pull Ferguson from the crowd and he was arrested by attending police officers. After initally giving a false name, a search on the police national computer determined Ferguson, known as a Tranmere Rovers supporter was subject of a five-year football banning order imposed in 2019 for pitch invasion and was already banned from attending any matches at the time of the incident. 

Ferguson is understood to have attended the match after being supplied with a ticket via a cousin who was a Fleetwood player.

Ferguson's defence solicitor claimed that he had been in a football environment from a very young age.

He added: "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."

Douglas Mackay, prosecuting, said: "Ferguson's actions were vile and something that none of us should ever experience at a football match - whether that be fans, staff, police or indeed the players themselves.

He added that the sentence should act as a wake-up call to any fans who think it might be acceptable to break the law during matches.

Speaking on the verdict, the Black Footballers Partnership (BFP), said the sentence revealed the extent of racism that still resides in the sport.

Delroy Corinaldi, BFP executive director, told reporters: "Black excellence on the pitch has driven up participation numbers and lessened the amount of overtly racist chanting on the terraces, so that events like those discussed today stand out more."

But while the achievements of such players as Jordon Garrick might push overt racists to the margins, he added: "Ongoing ignorance can only be excised when black footballers become visible as black managers, coaches, board members and owners. 

"It ends when the clubs and their representative bodies properly tackle the institutional barriers to black success off the pitch."

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