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Woman set to become first ever to be banned from football matches

Woman set to become first ever to be banned from football matches

Abbie-Leigh Reay was at a Tranmere Rovers match when she threw the missile at the referee

A 23-year-old is set to be the first woman ever banned from attending football matches after she threw a flare at a referee.

Abbie-Leigh Reay, from Merseyside, was arrested after she launched an object at the official during Tranmere Rovers' defeat to Forest Green Rovers back on 29 January this year.

CCTV footage from the match captured the moment the 23-year-old chucked the flare, which landed near referee Lee Swabey and Forest Green goalkeeper Luke McGee.

The Aldi worker was stopped by police as she left Prenton Park stadium following Tranmere's 4-0 loss.

Despite her arrest, Reay later posted photos of herself at the match with her girlfriend, where she joked, 'Before it all went downhill'.

She later commented: ''Just hope I don't get banned.''

Reay was seen throwing a flare onto the pitch during a Tranmere Rovers match.

At a hearing at Sefton Magistrates' Court in Merseyside, Reay, of Bebington near Birkenhead, denied a charge of throwing a missile onto a football playing area under the Football (Offences) Act 1991.

Reay, who represented herself, told the court that she threw the flare in a 'panic' after it landed near her.

"We had moved a couple of seats in front of these lads but they rocked down and that's when the flare has come and it was smoking at my feet,'' she said.

 ''Joel [brother] was on one side and my partner was on the other side and the first thing I thought was to get it away. I threw it directly onto the football pitch. I then turned around and told the lads to ‘f*** off'. I've been going to Tranmere all my life and I hate things like this."

Reay's partner Libby told the hearing: "The lads told us that they had flares in their pockets. After half-time the flare ended up on my feet.

"I am asthmatic, I did not want to be inhaling the smoke, so I just panicked. Abbie panicked and just picked it up and threw it and the police turned up. The lads behind did say it was not her flare."

She was found guilty following a trial at Sefton Magistrates' Court.

However, despite her argument and her witnesses' testimonies, Reay was found guilty and will be sentenced later this month.

Presiding over the case, District Judge James Hatton told her: "You simply picked it up and threw it towards the referee and the goalkeeper.

"Thereafter you put your arms in what was clearly an act of celebration. There is no other explanation for it. It is extremely clear and I reject your account in its entirety."

Tranmere Rovers say fans who throw items on the pitch will be banned from the stadium irrespective of police action.

 A spokesperson for the club said: "We take a zero tolerance approach to these incidents.

"Any person encroaching on the pitch, throwing items on the pitch or doing anything to endanger supporters will be issued with an automatic stadium ban, quite apart from any criminal sanctions that the police may invoke."

Featured Image Credit: Cavendish

Topics: Sport, Crime, Football