West Bromwich Albion FC give lifetime ban to fan guilty of racist gestures to Birmingham City fan

Baggies fan Neil Grainger made offensive gestures during West Brom’s win against Birmingham City last year

West Bromwich Albion has issued a lifetime ban to a man who made vile monkey gestures towards a rival fan during a game at The Hawthorns last year.

Neil Grainger, 36, was spotted making offensive hand movements during a Championship match between West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City.

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Baggies fan Grainger made the offensive gesture while sitting in the home stand during the team’s 1-0 win over their Midlands rivals on October 15 last year.

Grainger, of Cheslyn Hay, Staffordshire, was convicted of a racially aggravated public order offence at Dudley Crown Court and received a three-year football banning order, forbidding him from attending any match across the UK until March 2025.

West Brom suspended the individual shortly after the incident, and have today (31 March) confirmed that they have issued a lifetime ban to Grainger, meaning he won’t be able to attend any of the club’s matches in the future.

What has the club said?

Chief Executive Ron Gourlay said: “We will not tolerate any form of discrimination and our message to supporters remains clear; racism is totally unacceptable, and we will continue to seek the toughest available sanctions in reprimanding anyone found guilty of such an offence.

“Albion has a proud history of fighting racism and we will not hesitate in acting to ensure The Hawthorns is a safe and welcoming environment for all.

“Our staff will continue to work with supporters and West Midlands Police to ensure all instances of racism, either at The Hawthorns, at an away fixture, or online, are reported. Anyone who is found guilty of such an offence will be banned from the club for life.

“We again place on record our thanks to PC Stuart Ward, West Midlands Police’s Dedicated Football Hate Crime Officer, who worked with the club throughout this case.”

As well as the three-year banning order, Grainger was also slapped with a fine and court costs totalling almost £1,500.

Neil Grainger

What have West Midlands Police said about the hate crime?

PC Stuart Ward, West Midlands Police football hate crime officer, said: “These were appalling and very offensive actions which have no place within football or society in general.

“The supporter who witnessed this did exactly the right thing in reporting it, as it helped us secure a criminal conviction against Grainger.

“The supporter told us they felt disgusted and ashamed anyone could do this at a match, and it’s a view I’m sure proper football fans will share.

“This conviction not only tarnishes Grainger’s reputation but can impact on employment and travel in future.

“He’s also lost a hobby in not being able to attend football games.

“It was clear during the pandemic how much football fans missed being at a live game with friends or family.

“Now through his own highly offensive actions he must miss out again for another three years.”

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