Blyth man banned from football matches after sending Brentford star Ivan Toney racial abuse

Northumbria Police
The three-year football ban is the first of its kind.

A man from Blyth has been sentenced after racially abusing Brentford striker Ivan Toney on social media.

Antonio Neill, 24, sent a racist message to Toney in October of last year via social media.

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The footballer then shared the message to his social media, prompting Northumbria Police and the Metropolitan Police to launch a full investigation.

The message was eventually traced to Neill who was living in North Shields at the time.

In Janurary, Neill pleaded guilty to the hate crime when he appeared before Magistrates in Newcastle.

Yesterday, he was handed a four-month sentence, suspended for two years, as well as a three-year banning order- the first of its kind to be issued under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court Act 2022.

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The legislation widened the scope for banning orders to be issued for online hate crimes relating to a person with a prescribed connection to a football organisation.

In a statement, Brentford Football Club said: “Brentford FC is pleased to see the Antonio Neill case resolved and that Northumbria Police pursued this to a conclusion.“Court appearances set a strong precedent for anyone else who commits hate crimes and it is our hope that sentences increase in severity until this sort of crime is eradicated.

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“Ivan Toney has been subject to sickening racist abuse on a regular basis, and we want to see tough action taken against anyone found guilty of such abuse.

“The club firmly believes there is no place for racial abuse in football and we continue to support and implement a zero-tolerance policy towards discriminatory behaviour of any kind.”All authorities have their role to play in this and we, again, call upon the social media companies to make their platforms safe for all participants and to remove all hateful content.”

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The banning order forbids Neill from attending any regulated football match in the UK, which includes Premier League, Championship, League One, League Two and National League fixtures, as well as England home internations.

Neill is also banned from travelling abroad to watch international matches.

Superintendent Scott Cowie, hate crime lead for Northumbria Police, said: “Discrimination has absolutely no place in any society, whether out in our communities or online.

“I am therefore delighted that the seriousness of Neill’s offence has been reflected with this banning order, the first of its kind to be issued in the UK.

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“I hope this reinforces our commitment to taking action against anybody who commits a hate crime – it will not be tolerated and we will do all we can to put perpetrators before the courts.

“I would like to thank everyone who played their part in this particular case, including the team of officers who worked tirelessly to secure justice as well as our colleagues at the Metropolitan Police, the UK Football Policing Unit and the Premier League.”