A KNUTSFORD man who confronted footballer Rio Ferdinand at the end of the Manchester derby has been spared a spell in prison but has been banned from attending football matches for three years.

Manchester City fan Matthew Stott, 21, of Southfields, had to be restrained by City’s Joe Hart towards the end of the game at the Etihad Stadium on December 9, 2012, after running towards the United defender.

The incident followed a late winner for United scored by Robin van Persie.

At Manchester Magistrates Court today (Friday), Judge Richardson said Stott had come close to being sent to jail.

Instead he was handed a 56-day jail term, suspended for a year, banned from attending a football match in England and Wales for three years, ordered to complete 120 hours of community work and given a three month 8pm to 6am curfew.

Rebecca Caulfield, defending Stott, told the court her client had drank eight pints of lager and could not remember what he had done.

She added: “He’s lost his job and received death threats and his family has been intimidated by members of the public who have been camping outside his father’s flat.

“He also had to close his Facebook page after receiving death threats on there.”

Judge Richardson praised the actions of Joe Hart, adding: “But for the timely and appropriate intervention of the City goalkeeper the situation would have been a lot worse and could have triggered a serious incident of disorder."

For more on Stott pick up next week's Knutsford Guardian.