Footballers banned from Cheltenham Festival after urinating into glass


A group of professional footballers have been banned from the Cheltenham Festival after being photographed urinating into a glass which was then 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 the second day of the festival.

Etiquette expert and author William Hanson told the Press Association the actions of the footballers flouted standards of "basic civility".

He said: "There is absolutely no excuse for what happened in any sort of social setting, whether it is a high-class one or a lower class one. It is just totally base.

"There is no massive code of etiquette that you have to follow at the races; it is just normal, polite, social, civil behaviour. It is not rocket science, it is not something for the elite; it is just basic civility.

"There is never any excuse for bad manners."

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, and the images are likely to reignite debate over heavy drinking and vulgar behaviour at racing events.

Pictures of women tottering in high heels and swigging from champagne bottles, or slumped on the ground with their legs askew, have become a mainstay of the racing season.

Mr Hanson said Cheltenham has a reputation for attracting a "coarser crowd" and can see behaviour "that would at Ascot have them reaching for the smelling salts".

But he warned that racing generally has a slightly tarnished image because of loutish behaviour.

While upping the ticket price remains an option to deter some people from attending the races, Mr Hanson said this would not do much to put off well-paid but badly-mannered footballers.

Instead, courses should consider imposing stricter sartorial standards in the hope that "if you dress smartly you are going to think smartly", he said.

"You could make it all morning dress, for example; a footballer is probably not going to realise what that is - he probably thinks its pyjamas - and kick them out the door," Mr Hanson said.

"But that really is all a bit Louis XIV and excluding people, and actually Cheltenham is all the classes coming together and getting on well. But then this happens."

Some courses have announced stricter dress codes in an attempt to spruce up their image.

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".