Fan blames a lack of signs at Fratton for pitch invasion

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A TEENAGE fan who ran on to the pitch during a Pompey match told a court there should have been signs saying it wasn’t allowed.

Benedict Placidi, of Warsash Road, in Warsash, pleaded guilty to staging a one-man pitch invasion when he appeared in Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

During the game against Hull City on March 27, the 19-year-old jumped over the Fratton Park barrier in the second half during a break in play.

Stewards pursued him as he ran the length of the pitch and made an obscene gesture at the visiting Hull fans before being led away.

He was charged with going on to the playing area at a football match under the Football Offences Act 1991, received a three-year football banning order and had to pay £275.

Placidi, who runs his own fruit and vegetable business, described himself as a passionate fan who had ‘a moment of inspiration’ but apologised for disrupting the game.

He said: ‘I obviously admit what I did – it was a completely stupid act.

‘It was just a spur of the moment thing – emotion overtook me and I ran on to the pitch.

‘I didn’t see any signs saying I couldn’t run out on the pitch. I didn’t realise it was as serious as it was.’

District Judge Anne Arnold told him this was ‘a very lame excuse’ and he should have known better.

But responding to this, Placidi argued that he did not deserve to be severely punished for his actions.

‘It wasn’t made clear enough to me,’ he told the judge. ‘It was a good game and emotion got the better of me.

‘The club’s former chairman walked away leaving it hundreds of thousands of pounds in debt and he didn’t get in trouble.

‘I’m just a passionate fan.

‘But I totally admit to doing it and I apologise.’

After the hearing, he said he didn’t think the invasion had ruined the match.

‘Everyone seemed to enjoy it,’ he said ‘They all started cheering.’

Pompey were fined when a fan invaded the pitch during their match with AC Milan in 2008, but did not receive a penalty this time.

A Pompey spokesman said: ‘It’s important to realise these actions are compromising us at a time when we least need it. It is entirely irresponsible.’

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