Fan pleads not guilty over racist gesture
The Sunderland fan accused of making a racist monkey gesture towards West Bromwich Albion striker Romelu Lukaku has pleaded not guilty.
Liam Jones, 21, was charged following the incident that occurred during November's Premier League fixture between Sunderland and West Brom at the Stadium of Light. The gesture was made in reaction to the Belgium international scoring his side's third goal of the game.
Mr Jones denied the allegations made at him and maintains he was performing a 'chicken dance'.
Speaking at the time he said: "People have got it all wrong. I wasn't doing a monkey chant. I was doing a chicken dance. I'm devastated people think I'm racist. I have black friends and black cousins. If I was racist, I wouldn't pay to watch Sunderland because they have black players. I'm absolutely gutted I can't go to matches. I've been going for years. I can see where the club is coming from and I can see how the photo looks, but I want everyone to know that I am not racist."
Arrested after the game, he was charged with a racially aggravated offence in March.
Appearing in front of Sunderland Magistrates court on Monday, Mr Jones will return on June 26 to begin his trial after being released on bail.
Lee Poppet, prosecuting, also confirmed that Mr Jones must stay at least 300 metres clear of the Stadium of Light and 500 metres away from St James' Park on match days.
Mr Jones replied: "I don't go to St James' Park."
Magistrate Mrs Doris McKnight also suggested that Mr Jones should stay away from all regulated football matches.