Tranmere fan Abbie-Leigh Reay reportedly faces becoming the first woman to be banned from all football grounds after an incident mid-game.
The 23 year old is said to be the first women banned from all football stadiums in Britain after she was caught hurling a flare onto the pitch following her side’s dismal defeat.
She was arrested after she picked up the object and threw it towards the referee when her team went 3-0 down in a crunch League Two fixture against Forest Green Rovers back in late January.
Abbie-Leigh Reay was arrested after she grabbed the missile and threw it toward the referee and goalkeeper after her team Tranmere Rovers went 3-0 down https://t.co/xwlWInHI1j
— Liverpool Echo (@LivEchonews) September 5, 2022
CCTV footage show Reay, from Bebington, Merseyside, throwing her arms up in celebration as aflare lands on the pitch near to referee Lee Swabey and Forest Green goalkeeper Luke McGee.
Reay was stopped by police as she was leaving Tranmere’s Prenton Park after the League Two side were hammered 4-0.
Despite her arrest, Reay posted a selfie from the game on social media, writing ‘Before it all went down hill’ as the caption.
Appearing at Sefton Magistrates’ Court in Merseyside on Thursday, Reay denied a charge of throwing a missile onto a football playing area under the Football (Offences) Act 1991 but she was convicted after a trial.
She is due to be sentenced later this month.
She now faces a Football Banning Order which could see her banned from any ground in Britain – making her one of the first woman in Britain to be outlawed.
The first woman to be banned from football stadiums across England and Wales was Middlesbrough fan Julie Phillips, 51, who received a three-year banning order for ripping up pages of the Koran on an away day at Birmingham City in December, 2014.
Reay’s actions came just after half time when Forest Green extended their lead as angry fans vented their frustration by throwing missiles onto the pitch near opposition keeper McGee at the Kop end.
Stewards tried to take action on the crowd as they tried to apprehend the missile thrower but Reay could be seen bending down and throwing the flare onto the pitch.
She was interviewed later at her home having been caught by police on her way out.
Tranmere fan faces becoming first woman to be banned from all football grounds after incident
The 23-year-old claimed that the flare had been brought by some ‘lads’ behind her and threw it away in a ‘panic’ to protect her partner Libby Case and brother Joel. She was adamant that she was not celebrating when threw her arms in the air.
A PC patrolling Prenton Park said in a statement: “She did admit throwing the flare. She said she felt it hit her and landed on the floor and then in a kind of panic she has thrown it away. She mentioned that she was just scared and that it was burning near her so she picked it up. She didn’t know what to do and her first thought was to throw it away on the pitch.”
Representing herself, Reay, said the flare had been brought by some “lads” behind her and she had thrown it onto the pitch in a ”panic” to protect her partner Libby Case and brother Joel. She insists that she was not celebrating when threw her arms in the air.
“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 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. I literally had nowhere else to put it. It happened so quickly and the next thing I knew I was getting arrested.”
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.”
Referring to how she was seen to speak to her partner and hit her on the arm, Libby added: “I was not happy with her throwing it. I said ‘You could have just put it on the floor’ but I think she just panicked. She gave the lads a mouthful and I’m not going to repeat what she said. I did say to Abbie, ‘That needs to go now’ but I did not expect her to pick the flare up and throw it on the pitch. I thought she was just going to throw it over the wall.”
Reay’s elder sister Megan who was also at the match said: “Abbie felt something hit her back. She turned around and saw it was a flare and picked it up. Libby has asthma and she was with Joel so, Abbie threw it on the pitch. She put her arms up and turned to the people behind her as if to say, ‘What the f***?'”
But finding Reay guilty District Judge James Hatton told her: “You can be seen to throw the flare onto the path. It’s clearly thrown in the direction of the goalkeeper and the referee stood near the goal, presumably because of the disorder on the pitch.
“You have given an account of what happened and there are substantial differences between what you have said and your two witnesses. There are significant levels of inconsistencies between the three accounts. I have looked very carefully at the CCTV. The flare was not smoking prior to you picking it up. There was no hint of panic in either yourself or in Libby Case when you were caught on CCTV.
“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.”
At the the time of the incident Tranmere’s chairman Mark Palios issued a statement promising that those who threw items on the pitch would be banned from the stadium irrespective of police action.
He said: “We take a zero tolerance approach to these incidents. Tranmere is a family club and we want all spectators to be able to enjoy a game without it being spoiled by the actions of a mindless minority.
”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.”