A FOOTBALL fan from Eastbourne has become the first person ever to be banned from Brighton & Hove Albion’s new home.
Local labourer Paul Mehmet was arrested during the Championship outfit’s televised Carling Cup clash with Premiership giants Liverpool.
The 44-year-old appeared in court earlier this week where he pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly at the Albion’s £93m American Express Community Stadium in nearby Falmer.
Mehmet, of Friday Street, was a season ticket holder at the ground but has now been banned from home and away games for three years.
In fact, under the conditions of the football banning order given to him by Brighton Magistrates Court, Mehmet will not be allowed to step foot inside a 10-mile radius of any stadium in England and Wales which is playing host to his favourite team.
And he will have to surrender his passport in the run-up to England matches both at Wembley and overseas for the same three-year period.
Mehmet was arrested during Brighton’s 2-1 home defeat on September 21 after rowing with stewards who told him he could not re-enter the ground after he left it to give his son some money.
His Liverpool-supporting teenage boy had got a ticket for the away end, only to be told it was not valid – leaving him outside the ground, alone, and without any cash.
Mehmet left the Amex to give his 18-year-old enough money to get the train back to Eastbourne – but found his way barred when he tried to return to his seat.
The frustrated fan, who admitted to having downed strong lager in the run-up to the match, became aggressive and was arrested by nearby police.
Speaking at court, Mehmet said there was no excuse for his behaviour but denied being a trouble-maker.
He said, “I am a football fan through and through, not a football hooligan.
“I have followed football for years and have never been in this sort of trouble before.
“I am absolutely devastated and my kids are fuming with me.”
As well as the banning order, Mehmet was fined £110 and told to pay £100 in various legal costs.
Sussex Police’s head of football intelligence had some sympathy with Mehmet. PC Darren Balkham, “A moment of madness has caused him three years of being unable to watch his beloved Brighton.
“He has now got a three-year football banning order which prevents him from watching his team at what is a very exciting time for Brighton & Hove Albion.”