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Man Utd fan wins court battle thanks to FSF and IMUSA

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Here at the FSF all sorts of fans get in touch with us – innocent, guilty, confused, scared, angry, we’ve seen it all – and we’ve long worked off the principle that everyone has a right to fair advice and access to legal representation. We believe people are innocent until proven guilty and not the other way around as many clubs would have you believe it should be.

A few weeks back we heard from a Manchester United fan, we won’t name him since he did nothing wrong, who’d been arrested during his team’s 5-0 win at Wigan in August. A steward accused him of throwing a coin.

Now let’s be straight – if any fan throws a coin they deserve whatever punishment they get. It’s cowardly, indiscriminate, and could potentially blind someone. There’s also just been a recession and the UK needs every last penny. Ask Gordon Brown if you don’t believe us.

As we say though, everyone deserves the chance to defend themselves, so we put the fan in touch with the ever-excellent Melanie Cooke at RFB Legal and you know what? The steward who’d originally wrecked the fan’s day and caused all sorts of stress told the police he wanted no further involvement.

It was a weak case to say the least.

All of that time, effort and cost out of the public purse on the say-so of one steward. We’ll be writing to Wigan’s stadium safety officer to ask why they saw fit to waste public money. Maybe the players could stump up a refund? Arf.

The FSF and the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association (IMUSA) had promised to cover some of the court costs for the fan involved but since the case has been dismissed we’ll be getting that money back anyway!

We come across far too many cases where clubs take the steward or police’s word as absolute 100% gospel. It’s a stupid way to approach things and every fan deserves the chance to defend themselves, whether that’s in a court of law or directly to his or her club.

However, many fans are deterred from seeking legal advice because they can’t afford it or find the process intimidating. This fan got off because he had the financial backing for his day in court via the FSF’s Fans’ Fund.

One last thing. We’ve heard many tales of the police telling people a solicitor isn’t available for ages and it will all be over and done with if they just accept a caution. This didn’t happen in this case but it does in others.

If you’re not guilty do not accept a caution.

It’s not ‘getting off’ – it’s an admission of guilt. We can always assist with free telephone advice and can sometimes help financially. Always, always see a duty solicitor at the time of arrest – waiting a few hours could save a lifetime of hassle if you end up with a criminal record.

Next time it could be you or one of your mates – if you support the work we’re doing join for free via the link below and donate to the FSF’s Fans’ Fund today.


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  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
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  • Living Wage Foundation
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  • SD Europe