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Yob banned from matches for Hillsborough disaster gestures

A football fan has been banned from attending matches and fined after making sick gestures referring to the Hillsborough disaster during Man United’s FA Cup quarter final.

Mr Avery, 45, was captured on a video which was later shared on X, which showed him splaying his fingers over his face in reference to the 97 Liverpool fans who lost their lives on the 15th of April, 1989.

For those who are unfamiliar with the infamous event, the Hillsborough disaster saw the aforementioned 97 supporters crushed to death after the unlawful action of allowing the Hillsborough Stadium to fill over its maximum capacity resulted in a deadly crush in the stands.

Mr Avery plead guilty to a Public Order Offence at Manchester Magistrates’ Court yesterday, the 22nd of April. He said that he was “ashamed and embarrassed” and “deeply sorry” for his actions.

Alongside his sick references to the Hillsborough disaster, Avery was also videoed making references to the Heysel Stadium disaster – yet another deadly crowd crush.

Mr Avery's reference to the Hillsborough disaster was caught on video.
Mr Avery’s reference to the Hillsborough disaster was caught on video. Image credit: Yahoo News UK

On that occasion, in 1985, 39 Juventus supporters lost their lives when Liverpool fans attacked them and forced them en-mass against a collapsing wall.

Avery was seen pushing two hands out in reference to this particular disaster as he doubled up on his offences during the FA Cup quarter final between Man United and Liverpool.

As a result of his actions, which were clearly caught on video, Mr Avery was charged with Section 4a of the Public Order Act 1986 after a special operations branch of Manchester Police conducted an investigation into the footage

He has been slapped with a 3-year football banning order, and has been made to pay a victim surcharge of £320, alongside an £800 fine and additional costs of £85.

Mr Avery also made references to the Heysel Stadium disaster of 1985 as well as the Hillsborough disaster.
Mr Avery also made references to the Heysel Stadium disaster of 1985. Image credit: Daily Mail

Chief inspector of the special operations branch, Jamie Collins said of the incident:

“Following the understandable concern raised online following the video being shared of Avery’s actions, we undertook an investigation into this to ensure justice was brought.”

“We are continuing to take a proactive action against those engaged in this type of behaviour, that is intent on causing distress to victims and supporters impacted by terrible football tragedies of the past. Any kind of gesture or comments in relation to tragedy chanting will not be tolerated and is totally unacceptable.”

Sadly, such displays as Mr Avery’s are not uncommon in football stands. In June 2023, a man plead guilty to wearing a shirt that referenced the Hillsborough disaster during last year’s FA Cup Final between Man United and Man City.

An Everton fan was also charged for making references to the Heysel Stadium disaster in chants during a Merseyside derby.

Those who are in favour of respect in the game can only hope that heavy fines and football banning orders such as those Mr Avery received will make fans think twice before making such offensive gestures at matches.