A football fan who made drunken comments about the Munich air disaster, which killed eight Manchester United players, has been banned from going to games for three years.

James Blake, 42, of Wantage Avenue, North Shields, appeared at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court to challenge a banning order application but it was imposed by the bench.

Magistrates fined him £400 and ordered him to pay £620 costs and a £160 surcharge after he admitted a public order offence on the night Newcastle United played Manchester City in the Carabao Cup in September.

He said he would pay the £1,180 immediately.

James Edward Jeffrey Blake court case
James Edward Jeffrey Blake, 41, from North Shields, was fined £1,180 and banned from games for three years (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Blake was filmed by a YouTuber outside St James’s Park saying: “How? What about Man United? Air disasters, air disasters.” A child, not related to Blake, then joined in.

The court heard the comments were a reference to the plane crash in 1958.

Eight Manchester United players were among the 23 people who died.

Among the survivors was Ashington-born World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton, who died in October aged 86.

Blake, a self-employed painter and decorator earning £400 a week who wore Stone Island jeans and a Lacoste sweater for the hearing, admitted a charge of using threatening or abusive behaviour likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress.

Steven Davis, prosecuting, said the comment was made on the night Newcastle United beat Manchester City in the Carabao Cup, on September 27.

Following the cup win, Newcastle were drawn against Manchester United.

But Dave Parish, defending Blake, said that the comments about the air disaster were made before Newcastle had even played the cup tie with City, and therefore before fans knew that they were to face Manchester United in the next round.

Mr Parish said: “He is ashamed, remorseful and frankly disgusted with his behaviour.”

The solicitor said Blake had been drinking with Manchester City fans before the game and was “highly intoxicated”.

Mr Parish said Blake had “picked up” some of what the City fans had been singing about.

The comments were uploaded to YouTube then a clip was taken and shared on Twitter, now X, after the cup tie, the court was told.

As a result of being arrested, Blake had his Newcastle season ticket suspended, the court heard, and he has received death threats.

Mr Parish said: “This is not responding to the (cup) draw, this is not trying to goad or upset other fans, this is pure and simple drunken stupidity.”

Chair of the bench, Jane Barnes, said the offence was aggravated because children were present and he had been drinking.

Newcastle United v Manchester City – Carabao Cup – Third Round – St James’s Park
Newcastle United beat Manchester City on the night Blake made his comments (Owen Humphreys/PA)

She said the football ban was justified, adding: “You knew that it was being recorded and as a result of that, the recording was shown on social media.”

When Blake was told the conditions of the banning order, which include reporting to a Newcastle police station within five days of this hearing, he commented that he was in the process of moving to Spain.

Superintendent Paul Walters, of Northumbria Police, reminded fans of the consequences of their actions.

He said: “This kind of hateful speech has absolutely no place in our communities or online, and we know this kind of behaviour isn’t representative of the overwhelming majority of football fans.

“Many of you will have seen the original video circulating, and we would like to thank those of you who reported it to us in the first instance and allowed us to act.”

He added: “I am therefore pleased that the seriousness of James Blake’s offence has been recognised by the courts and I am grateful for the restrictions which are now stringently placed on him.”

Blake has also had his Newcastle United season ticket revoked.

A club spokesperson said: “Tragedy-related chanting and gesturing is completely unacceptable and Newcastle United is committed to working with authorities and the wider football community to eradicate it.”