A FOOTBALL thug who attacked a rival fan as supporters clashed outside Tynecastle Stadium has been banned from attending football matches.
Hearts fan Andrew King launched the assault on a Motherwell supporter as fans from both teams battled with each other outside the Edinburgh club’s stadium earlier this year.
Violence erupted between two large groups of opposing fans in the streets surrounding the stadium just 15 minutes before a league match between the clubs in January.
Police Scotland launched a manhunt for those involved and following investigations a number of fans from both sides were traced and arrested.
Today at Edinburgh Sheriff Court 54-year-old King admitted his part in the violence when he pleaded guilty to assaulting a Motherwell supporter by punching him to the face.
Co-accused Lee Mullen, from Glenrothes, Fife, also admitted to goading rival fans, gesticulating in a threatening manner towards the opposing fans and to throwing a traffic cone during the incident.
The court heard delivery driver King, from Gorgie Road, had left a nearby social club before clashing with rival fans at around 2.45pm on January 16 this year.
Fiscal depute Mark Keene said: “There was a large disturbance between supporters of Hearts and Motherwell and the disturbance was captured on CCTV footage.
“The accused King was seen to conduct himself by threatening another and walked up to a Motherwell supporter and punched him.
“As for accused Mullen, the circumstances were captured on CCTV and he was seen to gesticulate towards the other fans and throw a traffic cone at Motherwell supporters.”
Both men were not arrested at the time but were subsequently traced, cautioned and charged around two weeks later.
Roy Harley, defending, said his client was a season ticket holder at Tynecastle and “the avid Hearts fan” had lashed out after a Motherwell fan had “tried to spit on him” as he made his way to the match.
Mr Harley said: “Mr King had left the Prison Warders’ club at McLeod Street to go to the game and he found himself walking through rival fans.
“Cones were being thrown and he had to walk through a gauntlet of abuse and out of that in frustration he punched a rival fan.
“He accepts he was very annoyed and gesticulated and swore at rival fans.”
Sheriff Frank Crowe said: “Andrew King you really ought to know better though I accept there was some provocation.
“But you crossed the line by assaulting the other fan and it could have blown up out of all proportion.
“I will impose a fine and I think you should just sit out this season and see where you go from there.”
King was fined £400 and banned from attending football matches for the next nine months.
Mullen, who is currently serving a four month prison sentence after breaching a court order for a similar offence, had his sentence deferred for reports to later this month.
The court was told the 19-year-old was currently serving a three year football banning order for the previous offence.