A WEST Bromwich Albion fan who made racist monkey gestures at a home match has been handed a lifetime ban from the club. 

Neil Grainger, aged 36, was seen making the racist hand movements towards an opposition supporter during the game against Birmingham City last October.

He was sitting in a home stand at The Hawthorns and was spotted by another fan who reported it to a nearby officer.

Grainger, of Cheslyn Hay in Staffordshire, was convicted of a racially aggravated public order offence after a trial at Dudley Magistrates Court on March 30.

He received a three-year football banning order to cover all matches across the UK. He was also given a fine and court costs totalling almost £1,500.

PC Ward, football hate crime officer for West Midlands Police, said: "These were appalling and very offensive actions which have no place within football or society in general.

"The supporter who witnessed this did exactly the right thing in reporting it, as it helped us secure a criminal conviction against Grainger.

"The supporter told us they felt disgusted and ashamed anyone could do this at a match, and it's a view I'm sure proper football fans will share.

"This conviction not only tarnishes Grainger's reputation but can impact on employment and travel in future. He's also lost a hobby in not being able to attend football games.

"It was clear during the pandemic how much football fans missed being at a live game with friends or family. Now through his own highly offensive actions he must miss out again for another three years."

West Bromwich Albion Football Club has issued Grainger with a lifetime ban. 

West Brom chief executive Ron Gourlay said: “We will not tolerate any form of discrimination and our message to supporters remains clear; racism is totally unacceptable, and we will continue to seek the toughest available sanctions in reprimanding anyone found guilty of such an offence.

“Albion has a proud history of fighting racism and we will not hesitate in acting to ensure The Hawthorns is a safe and welcoming environment for all.

“Our staff will continue to work with supporters and West Midlands Police to ensure all instances of racism, either at The Hawthorns, at an away fixture, or online, are reported. Anyone who is found guilty of such an offence will be banned from the club for life.

“We again place on record our thanks to PC Stuart Ward, West Midlands Police’s Dedicated Football Hate Crime Officer, who worked with the club throughout this case.”