Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

One of Britain’s most prolific football hooligans who was accused of goading and abusing Manchester United fans has been banned from attending matches. Liam Newton, 32, has been on an MI6 watchlist of known troublemakers at West Ham games both in the UK and abroad since 2014, a court heard.

Hammers of Newton was part of a group of so-called ‘risk supporters’ and caused chaos at nine different matches, with Manchester United, Birmingham City, Tottenham Hotspur and Middlesbrough as well as French team Lyon and German sides Schalke 04 and Frankfurt.

Giving evidence at Stratford Magistrates’ Court this week, the self-employed engineer said verbal abuse between rival fans was’ commonplace ‘in Britain and’ that’s just football unfortunately ‘.

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Handing him a three-year ban, district judge John Law, reports the Mirror, said of Newton: “He enjoys the camaraderie of being with other supporters in a risk group amid the tension of the outbreak of potential violence, which he says is part of the game. ”

The case comes after a number of pitch invasions following games in England, including at Manchester City’s Premier League title win over Aston Villa last weekend, during which Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen claimed he was assaulted. And last week Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira was involved in an altercation with an Everton supporter during a pitch invasion following the side’s defeat at Goodison Park.

The Metropolitan Police previously applied for a banning order against Newton, of Wickford, Essex, after he was identified as a risk supporter at four football matches between 2014 and 2016 – but the force lost.

Newton arrives at court

Last year they renewed their application after Newton was spotted at the center of trouble during three more matches between 2019 and 2021. In a last minute application before the trial, a prosecutor was able to convince the judge to hear about Newton’s presence during chaos at foreign matches as recent as this month.

The father-of-one told the court he had been attending West Ham games since he was five-years-old and being banned would be a ‘shock to the system’. The court heard Newton was first arrested during West Ham’s pre-season tour in Germany for the Schalke 04 Cup in 2014 after trying to fight two fans inside the stadium.

In April 2016, he was accused of shouting abuse and goading Manchester United fans at the Premier League side’s last home game at Upton Park and in October that year at another home match with Middlesbrough. Newton was arrested at an away game with Tottenham in November 2016 and later admitted violent disorder after he went up to away from buses to taunt them. He was handed a 12-month community order and ordered to carry out unpaid work.

In January 2019, Newton was seen in body worn footage being escorted by police after a group of West Ham fans clashed with Birmingham City supporters before a home match. Newton was heard on body worn footage telling a fellow fan who had been assaulted: “Mark well done, well done mate, I love that.”

United’s Old Trafford stadium

Asked by prosecutor Andrew Price what he meant, Newton said: “It takes some kind of man to be confronted by that and not be scared.”

In November 2019, Newton was again captured on body-worn footage with a group exchanging insults with Chelsea fans as they left a pub in Putney, south London. After an 18-month hiatus on live football matches during the pandemic, Newton was arrested in September 2021 after a fight with a fellow West Ham fan the day before the club’s first-ever Europa League group stage fixture in Croatia.

Newton told the court he was held in a police cell for 22 hours and only caught the last 20 minutes of the game after having to pay a fine for causing public disorder. In April this year, Newton was seen on CCTV at a Europa League match with Lyon running towards foreign fans who were throwing missiles at West Ham supporters at the stadium.

He denied heading over to a rival supporter who had punched a West Ham fan, claiming he was following his friends because he did not want to get lost in an unfamiliar stadium. But his explanation was rejected by the district judge, who said: “I did not believe his evidence that this was just an innocent route to the match and he was confused where to go.”

The latest incident was at another away match with Frankfurt, the court heard, where he was said to be part of a group of fans involved in a fight with the rival team.

Handing him the banning order, Mr Law said: “Nine times in eight years he has been in the middle of or engaged in violent disorder at football matches in the company of identified risk supporters of West Ham. He was aware of these proceedings and went to Lyon with the risk group of friends.

“In May he went to Frankfurt and was involved in fighting. The constant is he stayed with a group of friends who are identified as a risk and there is reason to believe on his evidence he has continued to associate with these people and it’s a pattern . “

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