A football fan will stand trial next year after denying he racially abused former England defender Rio Ferdinand during a Premier League match.
Jamie Arnold is accused of causing racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress to Ferdinand by using “threatening, abusive or insulting” words or behaviour at a fixture involving Wolves and Manchester United on May 23.
Arnold, of Norton Bridge, near Stone, Staffordshire, was granted conditional bail after a 25-minute hearing on Thursday, until a trial on August 8 next year.
The 31-year-old, dressed in a blue suit and black T-shirt, spoke only to confirm his not guilty plea, his date of birth, and address.
Former Manchester United star Ferdinand, who is expected to be a witness at the trial, attended Wolverhampton Crown Court on Thursday, but was not in the courtroom during the proceedings.
Granting bail on condition that Arnold does not attend Wolves’ home games, Judge Simon Ward told the defendant: “Mr Arnold, stand up please.
“I have set the date for your trial on the 8th of August next year.
“I am sorry it’s so far in the future but I have explained why that has to be.”
The match at which the offence is alleged to have been committed was the first time fans had returned to Molineux since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, following the easing of restrictions.