Footballers banned from Cheltenham Festival after 'urinating into beer glass'


A group of professional footballers have been banned from the Cheltenham Festival after being photographed urinating into a glass which was emptied over the balcony.

MK Dons FC midfielder Samir Carruthers, 22, and Northampton Town's James Collins, 25, were pictured relieving themselves in front of a packed crowd.

The photographs, printed in The Sun, also show Bristol City defender Luke Ayling, 24, smiling and with his arm around Carruthers as the liquid is poured over the railings.

All three clubs said they will investigate the loutish behaviour and Cheltenham has blocked the party from attending day two of the Festival, with the track tweeting: "In regards to images of inappropriate behaviour from yesterday, we have cancelled their booking for today."

The four-day festival is one of the highlights of the horse racing season, with Zara Phillips among the well-heeled guests at this year's event.

Tickets to some of the exclusive enclosures can cost more than £700 a day but the images are likely to reignite debate over heavy drinking and vulgar behaviour at racing events.

MK Dons said in a statement: "The club is aware of pictures circulating in the national media of one of its players at the Cheltenham Festival. The club has commenced an internal investigation into the matter."

Northampton said in a statement: "Northampton Town Football Club have launched an investigation into claims that forward James Collins, currently on loan from Shrewsbury Town, was involved in a drunken incident at Cheltenham racecourse.

"As a club we take any such claims extremely seriously, and we expect the highest standards of behaviour at all times.

"We are unable to comment further until this investigation has been completed."

Bristol City said in a statement: "We are aware of the disappointing images from the Cheltenham Festival that have been printed in various national newspapers this morning.

"We will be speaking to the players concerned and will take appropriate action where necessary."

Concerns about drunken and loutish behaviour at the races have been growing in recent years.

Prestigious festivals which once attracted a genteel crowd of lords, ladies and royals have now got a reputation for attracting rowdy, drunken hen and stag parties.

Pictures of men and women looking the worse for wear and swigging from champagne bottles, or slumped on the ground, have become a mainstay of the racing season.

Last month, organisers of the Grand National Festival at Aintree urged women attending this year's Ladies' Day to smarten up in a bid to make the day more "aspirational".

Those attending the Liverpool horse-racing event on April 8 are being encouraged to dress more Ascot than the midriff -baring, stiletto-clad look that has become synonymous with the festival.

Aintree's management has told racegoers to "style up" and has even coaxed them into raising standards by offering a £35,000 Range Rover plus £8,000 in shopping vouchers to the most stylish punter.

On the day, stylists will be on hand to offer advice and expertise on what women should be wearing.