When your team is 3-0 up in an FA Cup quarter final replay, there’s only one way to celebrate, and that is to go on a solo pitch invasion, stripping to the waist, and doing summersaults on the pitch.
Or so thought Charlie Sumner, aka ‘Pudding’, on 16th March 2015.
He paid the price on 30th April 2015 when he was sentenced at Reading Magistrates’ Court.
What was the offence?
It is under s4 Football (Offences) Act 1991 (a good contender for an award for unnecessary use of brackets). This creates an offence “for a person at a designated football match to go onto the playing area, or any area adjacent to the playing area to which spectators are not generally admitted, without lawful authority or lawful excuse“.
It’s not treated that seriously – the maximum sentence is a Level 3 fine. This sting in the tail is that you can get a Football Banning Order – banning you from any football matches for a period of time between 2 and 10 years.
What did he get?
Mr Sumner got a fine of £265, which triggers a victim surcharge of £26.50 (which the magistrates seem to have rounded up to £27). He was also ordered to pay costs of £85 and was made subject of a 3 year banning order.
This prevents him from going to Reading FC’s stadium at all during this period as well as “from going within two miles of any football stadium where Reading are playing, with the ban covering a period three hours before and six hours after all matches“.
Is he going to appeal?
Totally. He said “I think that I’ve been made an example of and that both the banning order and the fine are harsh” and announced that he will be appearing.
Will he win?
Probably not. It’s hard to judge with the fine as this will depend on his financial circumstances.
As to the ban, there’s no real guidelines on it. The period of 3 years is actually the minimum period, so he can’t have that reduced, and it’s hard to see a Crown Court Judge being impressed with Mr Sumner’s antics and taking pity on him.
I’m perhaps too relaxed about these things – even men with steel hearts love to see a comedy pitch invasion. It’s only a game after all, let’s not take it too seriously…