Derby pitch invader says sorry

Wimbledon Guardian: Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand holds his head after being hit by a coin at the Etihad Stadium Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand holds his head after being hit by a coin at the Etihad Stadium

The Manchester City fan who ran on to the pitch and tried to confront Rio Ferdinand in Sunday's derby match has apologised, his solicitors have said.

Matthew Stott, 21, had to be restrained by City keeper Joe Hart and was arrested following Robin van Persie's late winner at the Etihad Stadium. He was subsequently charged with pitch encroachment.

Speaking through his solicitors Stephen Lickrish & Associates he confessed his guilt - and said sorry to the Manchester United defender.

In a statement, the landscape gardener, from Knutsford, said: "I would like to apologise to all those affected by my actions yesterday, particularly Mr Ferdinand and the other players. I am extremely ashamed of my actions. I have let myself down, my family down, my fellow fans down and Manchester City Football Club.

"I intend to write personally to Mr Ferdinand to express my extreme regret and apologies and also apologise to Manchester United and their fans. I would like to thank Joe Hart for his actions when I came on the pitch.

"I have been a fan of Manchester City Football Club all my life and I have been a season ticket holder for three years and I attend the games with my father. I have had the same seat in the section next to the away fans for those three years."

Rebecca Caulfield, solicitor at Stephen Lickrish & Associates, is representing Stott. She said: "He has never been to court before and has never been in trouble with any of the stewards at Manchester City Football Club before, or at any other ground. He is extremely remorseful and is mortified by his behaviour, which is completely out of character. Mr Stott will accept the consequences of his actions."

In total, nine people have been charged in connection with trouble at the derby. Trouble flared after Manchester United's last-gasp winner in their 3-2 Premier League away victory when Ferdinand was hit above the left eye by a two-pence coin thrown from the crowd as the team celebrated.

Police are continuing to work with City to identify the offender who threw the coin at Ferdinand, a police spokesman said.

Chief Inspector Steve Howard added: "To have just 13 arrests for a crowd of this size and a match of this proportion is a testament to the policing operation we put in place. Despite fierce rivalry and high tension there was no major disorder. However, we will continue to investigate the coin-throwing incident and are determined to work with the club to bring the perpetrator to justice."

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