A FOOTBALL player assaulted a referee during a match between Llanfechain and Abermule Reserves earlier this year.

Stuart Bebb, 35, caused the match on January 28 to be abandoned when he assaulted Connah Sears in the 28th minute of the game after being given a red card.

Welshpool Magistrates’ Court heard on Tuesday that Bebb, of Sarnau, Llanymynech, had already been fined £200 by the Central Wales Football Association, and given a two year ban.

Pleading guilty to the assault, Bebb was fined a further £400 by the court, and told to pay compensation to the referee.

Helen Tench, prosecuting, said that Bebb, a Llanfechain player, had sworn at the referee when a free kick was awarded to Abermule.

Mr Sears had called Bebb over, asked his name, and shown him the red card. Bebb then “grabbed him round the neck and held him down into a headlock,” said Mrs Tench.

Bebb quickly released Mr Sears and walked away. The game was abandoned and the police were called, in accordance with CWFA rules on incidents involving a referee.

The incident caused Mr Sears no injuries, but he “seriously considered his future as a referee,” Mrs Tench added.

Bebb denied the headlock but pleaded guilty to assault on the basis that he had put his hand on the back of Mr Sears’ head and pushed it down.

He said his swearing was directed at another player and Mr Sears had wrongly thought it was directed at him.

Robert Hanratty, defending, said: “It would be fair to say that 99.99 per cent of all indiscrepancies of behaviour on the pitch are dealt with by the referee, or the FA. There is an expectation that the game will discipline itself.

“The defendant is passionate about the team that he was playing for. For a moment the defendant saw red and told the referee what he thought.

“He put his hand behind his head and pushed it forward. He denies that it was a headlock.”

Mr Hanratty added that when he heard the game had been called off, Bebb went to the referee’s changing area and apologised.

The magistrates fined Bebb £400, and ordered him to pay £50 compensation to Mr Sears, as well as £85 costs and a £40 surcharge.