Photographer faces UK soccer ban after crude gesture

A freelance sports photographer could face a five-year ban from every football club in the country after making an offensive gesture to the club's chief executive.

Dan Westwell, 32, pleaded guilty to a public order offence at Mansfield Magistrates' Court and admitted "giving the finger" to Mansfield Town FC's chief executive Keith Haslam at a match on 20 January at the League Two side's Field Mill ground.

Westwell originally denied any wrongdoing but changed his plea to guilty in court.

Before the match Mansfield Town fans had been staging a protest against Haslam in an attempt to make him sell the club.

Westwell claimed he took a picture of a fans' banner displaying the message "Haslam out" and when he uploaded the image onto his laptop, was surrounded by police and stewards.

According to evidence heard in court, it was then that Westwell, a lifelong Stags fan, made the one-fingered gesture towards the directors' box.

Mansfield Chad editor Jeremy Plews said the paper would still employ Westwell if needed.

Magistrates have the power to enforce a Football Banning Order for "threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour" which can run for a maximum of five years and a minimum of three. He will be sentenced on 19 April.

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