Fans want football yobs to be dealt with firmly

Cheryl was lucky enough to sit next to 1980s pop star Sinitta, pictured here at a previous event   Picture: PA

CHERYL GIBBS: An embarrassing moment at a celebrity shindig with Sinitta

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We hope that Mark Martin stays out of trouble at any football matches he chooses to attend in the future. The sport has no place for supporters who make Nazi salutes or invade the pitch.

For that reason, many will be surprised that, having appeared in court for two separate offences at Fratton Park within the space of a few months, he was not made the subject of a legal prohibition from football grounds.

To their credit, Pompey have barred him from going to Fratton Park again.

But that is the action of a private company which no longer wishes to take the money of a former customer.

It is not a ban imposed by a court of law.

Police had wanted such a sanction to be imposed. It would have stopped him, should he have wished to do so, from going to Wembley last night to watch England play Ghana or to Reading on Saturday, when the Berkshire side entertain Pompey in a Championship match.

It’s not entirely clear why the judge who heard the original case decided to stop a step short of a prohibition order.

Perhaps he thought that the offences were not in themselves at the higher level of seriousness compared to the sometimes brutal behaviour witnessed around our sports grounds.

It remains a shame that magistrates asked by the police to consider a ban felt their hands were tied by the judge’s earlier decision.

Our belief is that the vast majority of football fans would consider a no-go order to be appropriate for someone who has behaved as this defendant did.

Thankfully, watching football is generally a less intimidating experience than it was in the dark hooliganism-tarred days of the 1970s and 1980s.

But the capacity for unacceptable behaviour remains and all supporters should be able to expect the law to deal with it forcefully.

They certainly don’t expect a defendant to be so pleased with himself at the end of the hearing that he shouts: ‘I love it!’