Brighton fan jailed for hurling ‘vile and racist’ abuse during Tottenham match

A Brighton and Hove Albion football fan who shouted racial abuse towards players during a match at the Amex Stadium has been jailed.

Saturday, 1st February 2020, 10:03 am
Updated Saturday, 1st February 2020, 10:31 am
Phil Westlake

George Reynolds was reported to have used vile and racist language during Brighton’s home game against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, October 5.

He then also made threats to a number of fellow spectators who challenged him about his behaviour, said police.

In court on Friday (January 31), Reynolds, from Shipley Road, Brighton, was sentenced to eight weeks’ imprisonment, after pleading guilty to the offence.

The 24-year-old has also received a life ban from any Brighton and Hove Albion games.

Brighton and Hove Albion chief executive and deputy chairman Paul Barber welcomed the conviction and said he hoped this would be a “watershed moment” for the club.

He said: “There is no excuse for racism in any form, either inside a football stadium, or anywhere in society.

“We have a zero tolerance on racism and the individual will also be subject to a life ban from the club and all of our fixtures, premises and events.

“We take no pleasure in imposing bans on supporters but we have made it very clear on numerous occasions we have zero tolerance for any kind of discriminatory behaviour, and the sanctions we impose will be commensurate with what is totally unacceptable behaviour.”

Mr Barber said: “Alcohol played a part in Reynolds’ actions but this is not an excuse – it is also a criminal offence to be intoxicated inside a football stadium – and, despite other fans’ objecting to and ultimately reporting his behaviour, Reynolds persisted.

“Looking forward, I hope that Reynolds’ conviction is a watershed moment, at least for our club.

“There is no place for racist or discriminatory behaviour in our society, let alone in this, or any other, football stadium. Put simply, we don’t want to witness it here, or anywhere else, again.

“On behalf of everyone at the club, I would like to thank those supporters who provided the club and Sussex Police with witness statements.

“It is extremely heartening to know that we can count on your support to help rid our game and society of such abhorrent behaviour.”

Reynolds, a season ticket holder in the North Stand, was identified and ejected from the stadium at around 1pm that day.

Information was passed by club stewards onto Sussex Police officers, who arrested him on suspicion of using racially aggravated language with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He was bailed with conditions to appear before Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Thursday (December 5), where he pleaded guilty to the offence.

The case was adjourned to Lewes Crown Court on Wednesday (January 8), where Reynolds requested more time to seek legal representation.

He re-appeared at the same court on Friday (January 31) and was sentenced.

PC Darren Balkham, Sussex Police football officer, said: “The language used by this individual was completely unacceptable.

“There is no place for it in society, whether that be in a football stadium, in public or anywhere else for that matter.

“Reynolds claims he did not remember what he said due to the amount of alcohol he had consumed before the game, and he only acknowledged his actions in police interview after being informed of the numerous reports made against him by other fans.

“We work closely with Brighton and Hove Albion FC to prevent and detect criminal activity, and anyone caught committing offences will be dealt with robustly.”

Sussex Police has also applied for a Football Banning Order against Reynolds, which will be heard at Lewes Crown Court on Thursday (February 6).

If granted, it would prohibit Reynolds from attending any football match in England and Wales for a minimum of six years.

He would also be required to surrender his passport when England play away games.