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Lifelong Manchester United fan given football banning order for tragedy chanting


A Manchester United fan has been sentenced for tragedy chanting at Liverpool fans, mocking the Hillsborough disaster.

Kevin Drinkwater, 59, attended the Old Trafford football stadium on Sunday 17 March 2024 to watch Manchester United FC play Liverpool FC, which was due to kick off at 3.30pm.

Ten minutes before the match started and before he had entered the stadium, a police officer overheard Drinkwater shouting 'murderers' towards Liverpool fans, which he later admitted was in reference to the Hillsborough disaster. The officer gave him a warning, but he continued to shout.

Drinkwater was arrested and interviewed, when he admitted to officers that he had called Liverpool fans murderers in reference to the Hillsborough disaster. He also said he should have heeded the warning of the officer but as he thought he had got away with it, he had continued.

Last year the Crown Prosecution Service updated its prosecution guidance on football-related offences, making it clear tragedy-related abuse can be prosecuted as a public order offence.

John Moran, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West, said:

"Tragedy-related abuse is never acceptable and has a profound impact on fans and families who have been bereaved.

"Kevin Drinkwater's offensive words towards Liverpool fans, shouted blatantly in front of police officers, has landed him a football banning order, stopping him from watching the team he has supported all his life."

Douglas Mackay, CPS national lead prosecutor for sport, said:

"Sport is for everyone to enjoy and fans shouldn't face vile, tragedy-related abuse.

"We want supporters to show their passion without crossing the line into criminality and we're working with football authorities including the Premier League and the Football Association, as well as with clubs and the police, to stamp out this cruel behaviour.

"I hope this case will serve as a reminder to others that if they involve themselves in tragedy chanting, they face the risk of being excluded from the game they claim to love."

Kevin Drinkwater pleaded guilty to Section 4a of the Public Order Act at Manchester Magistrates' Court on Tuesday 16 April.

Manchester Magistrates' Court today issued him with a three-year football banning order and also ordered him to pay £100 Fine, £85 prosecution costs and £40 victim surcharge. 

Notes to editors

Kevin Drinkwater, date of birth 27/01/1965, is from Manchester.

The Hillsborough disaster was a fatal crowd crush at a football match at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield on 15 April 1989. 94 people died on the day; another died in hospital days later, another died in 1993 and a 97th person died in 2021.

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) and CPS are committed to keeping football safe and inclusive to play and watch. Read more here.

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