A verdict has been handed down today in the case of a Manchester United fan who was arrested following the FA Cup final earlier in the month for wearing a custom shirt with the number 97 and words “not enough” on it in reference to the Hillsborough disaster.
The man, identified as 33-year-old James White of Warwickshire, has received a four-year nation-wide stadium ban and a £1000 fine for language intended to cause harm, distress, or to potentially spark a violent reaction, with the judge labelling it an “abhorrent message.”
For his part, White was reportedly seen smiling and laughing in court and claimed the shirt was a reference to his grandfather dying at 97 having not had as many children as he would have wanted. It was an explanation that was not considered credible by the court.
While laws against speech and actions intended to cause distress and potentially incite violence aren’t universal, few will likely consider a four-year stadium ban and fine excessive—though hopefully it will be enough to give the next James White second thoughts.
Update: Following the court ruling, Manchester United have issued White with an indefinite ban that will see him barred from Old Trafford and all club activities.