Roy Keane 'assaulted by Arsenal fan' after Man Utd goal disallowed by VAR

Roy Keane 'assaulted by Arsenal fan' after Man Utd goal disallowed by VAR

An Arsenal fan is accused of headbutting Roy Keane in the chest in a “shocking and unlawful attack” just moments after a Manchester United winning goal had been disallowed by VAR, a court has heard.

Scott Law, 43, was in the crowd at the Emirates Stadium last September for United’s clash with Arsenal, which appeared to be heading for a 1-1 draw with goals from Marcus Rashford and Martin Odegaard.

In the 88th minute, a strike by Alejandro Garnacho was ruled out for offside after a VAR review, while Arsenal then went on to dramatically win the match with two goals in injury time.

Law is accused of making an “obscene gesture” towards the Sky Studio, where Keane had been providing TV analysis alongside Micah Richards, before leaving his seat allegedly intent on confronting the former Manchester United captain.

Law, who lives in Waltham Abbey in Essex, says he was on his way to the toilet, rather than a planned confrontation with Keane, and argues he put his head forward in self-defence, fearing he himself was about to be attacked.

Keane is also accused of meting out “gratuitous violence” in the aftermath of the initial incident, and faced the suggestion that he had been caught on camera “smashing” his elbow into Law’s nose.

Law is on trial at Highbury Corner magistrates court, having denied assault by beating on September 3 last year.

Prosecutor Simon Jones said Law was sitting in a seat near to the glass-fronted Sky Sports studio where Keane had been doing half-time punditry with Richards.

“Roy Keane and Micah Richards began to make their way towards the pitch in preparation for fulltime analysis,” he said.

“On hearing a roar from the crowd, they returned to see Manchester United had seemingly scored, only for it to be disallowed following a VAR decision.

“That was the catalyst for the defendant to leave his seat and make his way tothe area between him and contact with Roy Keane, who was now back on his way from the studio to the lift to get to the pitch in readiness for the fulltimecommentary.”

Roy Keane (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Wire)
Roy Keane (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Wire)

The court was played footage of the Arsenal crowd celebrating the VAR decision, with several fans apparently turning towards the Sky studio.

“The defendant appears to make an obscene gesture towards those in the Sky studio, including Roy Keane,” continued Mr Jones.

“Scott Law’s reaction at that point is important evidence. He makes an obscene gesture towards the Sky studio. That level of aggression plainly within the hyped up defendant in that moment, shortly before he saw Roy Keane.

“The prosecution say the defendant was intent on violence from the outset.

“He takes little time in going straight up to Roy Keane where he delivered a forceful headbutt which impacted on the left upper side of the chest.

“Roy Keane instantly fell back. This was a shocking and unlawful attack.”

Giving evidence, Keane said he “couldn’t believe it” when he was headbutted, and had not been aware of anyone coming towards him.

“There was a bit of confusion, a lot of people, lots of noise, shouting, as you would expect, five to ten minutes to go in the football match”, he said.

“Before I knew it, I’m hit.”

He told the court: “I just felt the contact, and I’ve fallen back through some doors.”

Images have been presented to the court, allegedly showing bruising to the upper left side of Keane’s chest and a bruise on his arm, which he says may have happened when he fell against the doors.

“The only way I can describe it is, without a doubt, in shock.

“I didn’t expect that to happen, not when I was in the workplace.”

Keane said he saw “someone who had obviously headbutted me”, who was then restrained by Richards.

“He was trying to get a grip of him to make sure he didn’t run off. Straight away I was saying ‘call the police’.

“Instinctively I knew I had been hit.

“More people were gathering, Micah was holding him up against a wall.”

Keane said the man eventually was released and he saw him run away, and he and Richards ultimately headed pitchside to finish their work.

“I couldn’t believe what had happened, to be honest”, he added.

At the start of his evidence, Keane was asked to give his profession, and after a pause he replied: “Erm, pundit, allegedly” before adding that he also “does some podcast stuff”.

The ex-Ireland international was questioned over the course of a hour by Law’s barrister, Charles Sherrard KC, over his reputation in football, notorious incidents during his playing career, and comments he has made recently on podcasts.

Keane disputed the suggestion that, at 13, he had received the most red cards in English football, and he was confronted over one, for the horror tackle on Alfie-Inge Haaland in a Manchester derby in 2001.

“I was sent off a few times, unfortunately”, Keane told the court. “I also had bad referees.”

Keane insisted he had never intended to injure a player, and he said a quote from his first autobiography suggesting the incident involving Haaland was a “revenge tackle” was not written or approved by him.

“The autobiography was ghost-written - I didn’t say them words”, he said.

In his second autobiography, Keane wrote that he “did want to nail” Haaland. Faced with the quote, he told the court: “There is a difference between hurting someone and injuring them - 100 per cent.

“Players know when you go into tackles, when you are physical and hit someone, there’s a good chance you are going to get hurt. Injured is different.”

Keane said “every game is a battle”, and added: “That was the game I was in - people hurt me, and I have to hurt people.

“When you are playing in the middle of the park, you are going to get hurt.”

Keane was also played a clip of a stamp on England manager Gareth Southgate during a 1995 match.

He denied “glorying” in his tough reputation, and insisted he had never referred to himself as a “hard man”.

“If you could get a quote that I’m a hard man, I will listen to it”, he told Mr Sherrard, in one of their tense exchanges.

Turning to the alleged assault, Mr Sherrard suggested the Arsenal fans were seen on camera reacting to the VAR decision by turning to the Sky studio because Keane was in it, and reacting himself.

He said Law will claim Keane had called him “fat” repeatedly, and the ex-footballer had turned towards him deliberately as he headed for the public toilet next to the Sky Studio and made a comment about the abuse that had been coming from the stands moments earlier.

“You chose to confront him”, said Mr Sherrard.

“When you saw him, you said ‘say it to my face you fat c***’.”

Keane replied: “I said that when I was at work? Disagree.”

Mr Sherrard suggested Keane was actually the aggressor “as the red mist descended”, and said: “The only person who used gratuitous violence was you.”

He showed enhanced footage of the aftermath of the initial confrontation, and suggested it showed Keane “smashing his nose”.

Keane said the clip shows him trying to stop Law from leaving the scene, but Mr Sherrard asked: “How are you stopping someone getting away with an elbow to the face?”

Keane replied: “I’ve got bags in my hands, I was trying to grab him, to stop him from getting out.

“I must have said nine or ten times, someone call the police. I’m trying to stop him from leaving.”

Law says in the initial incident he moved his head forward in a “pre-emptive strike” against Keane, the court heard, and set out in a statement to police that there was “no doubt in my mind” that he was about to be attacked.

“I have seen Mr Keane act violently previously, I’ve seen his short temper, Iwas frightened,” he said.

Mr Sherrard told the court: “What the defendant himself knew of Mr Keane was such as to demonstrate, firstly, that he is not someone who would ever attempt to assault Roy Keane.

“He was scared, which is why he reacted as he did. It is why he put his headdown at the key moment, to defend himself. It is part and parcel of what playedinto the defendant’s mindset.”

Former Manchester City and Aston Villa defender Micah Richards is expected to enter the witness box on Friday morning.

The trial in front of District Judge Angus Hamilton continues.

The judge told lawyers in the case before the trial began that he “knows very little about football” and hadto ask who Roy Keane is.

“It’s probably why I was given thetrial,” he joked.