Sheffield Wednesday fan from Retford banned from Hillsborough for life over racist chanting

Stephen Sheridan.
Stephen Sheridan.

A Sheffield Wednesday fan from Retford, who was filmed on a mobile phone chanting a racist song on a train, has been banned from Hillsborough for life.

The footage of Stephen Sheridan was broadcast on Channel 4's Dispatches series last week, in a programme showing British Transport Police officers dealing with racism, homophobia and anti-semitism by football fans on Britain's trains.

Sheridan's racist chanting, as part of a song about Sheffield United, was captured on a train CCTV camera in March last year but there was no sound.

But a concerned passenger, who filmed the incident on a phone, handed it in to the police and an investigation into the incident, on a Sheffield to Lincoln train, was launched.

Sheridan pleaded guilty to racially aggravated public disorder and was fined £395.

Sheffield Wednesday then banned him from home games for life.

A club spokesman said: "Mr Sheridan was issued an immediate ban as soon as this incident came to light.

“He was invited to speak in person to the club’s Safety Officer to explain his alleged behaviour but declined that invitation.

“Should Mr Sheridan choose to make contact moving forward, he will be informed that following his conviction, a lifetime ban is now in place from all matches involving Sheffield Wednesday under our jurisdiction.

“Sheffield Wednesday is a family-focused football club and has a zero tolerance policy toward any kind of such deplorable behaviour.”

Chief Constable Paul Crowther said: “A big part of our job at British Transport Police is helping to move large numbers of people across the rail network to concerts, evenings out, and to and from work each day.

“But what this Dispatches shows is that we are spending a disproportionate amount of time chaperoning grown adults around the country who are behaving badly, singing racist chants and being abusive to other passengers.

“This type of behaviour is not something that anyone should have to accept. At best, it is intimidating to other people on the trains and at the stations - and at worst, it is hate crime.”

In the last three years, BTP has recorded more than 2,300 football related incidents and the average cost of policing fans travelling to football fixtures is around £5 million a year.

Chief Constable Crowther said: “We have worked to establish what drives bad behaviour - as many of the people we come across would not behave in the same way during the week, they have full time jobs and families. We found that it was a mix of tribalism, a feeling of anonymity within large groups and a 'what goes on tour, stays on tour' mentality.

“What this programme shows is that we are working on breaking down those beliefs. It shows that we will doggedly investigate, using CCTV on trains and platforms, body worn video, mobile phone footage and overt tactics to bring people to justice. We’ll do what we can to ensure they are prosecuted and, where necessary, ensure they can no longer go to football fixtures.

“We also would like to see a consistent approach from football clubs to take collective responsibility for these fans and will continue working with the rail industry to penalise those who behave badly, and offer incentives for those who do not.

“It’s not ok to chant racist slurs because you’re 'out with the lads', it’s not ok to be abusive because you had 'one too many' and we’re going to make sure people know that.”