Leeds United has launched an investigation into how hooligan football fan Aaron Cawley was able to get a ticket for the club’s away match against Norwich City despite being handed a life ban four years ago for punching a player.
Cawley was banned from all matches in England and prevented from travelling abroad to watch the national side for six years after attacking Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper, Chris Kirkland, during a televised game against United at Hillsborough in 2012.
But the 25-year-old from Gloucestershire has now been pictured celebrating a Leeds away goal at Norwich’s Carrow Road ground after successfully applying to magistrates in Sheffield to have his banning order lifted.
He was seen jumping on Leeds striker Pontus Jansson after he scored and jumped over hoardings to celebrate with fans during the visitors’ 3-2 victory.
South Yorkshire Police confirmed the ban was lifted and that it consulted with West Yorkshire Police over the matter and chose not to oppose the appeal.
A spokesman said: “The ban was lifted by Sheffield Magistrates’ Court on application by Mr Cawley.
Mr Cawley does have a lifetime ban from Leeds United. He did not purchase his ticket for the Norwich game from us.Leeds United spokesman
“This is in line with current legislation. As Mr Cawley is a Leeds United Fan and does not follow any South Yorkshire clubs, South Yorkshire Police liaised with the football officer at West Yorkshire Police in order to assess if there was any information to support opposing his application.
“Following this consultation, the application was not opposed.”
A Leeds United spokesman confirmed that Cawley’s life ban from the club’s games remains in place, meaning he is banned from Elland Road and the club won’t sell him a ticket for any game.
He said: “Mr Cawley does have a lifetime ban from Leeds United. He did not purchase his ticket for the Norwich game from us. The club will conduct an investigation into how a ticket was purchased.”
According to The Sun newspaper, Cawley bragged of his return on Facebook posting a picture of him by pitchside with caption: “Good to be back - love Leeds”.
West Yorkshire Police said its officers were aware Cawley was at the Norwich game and have since been in contact with Leeds United.
Chief Superintendent Paul Money, Leeds District Commander, said: “Aaron Cawley was made the subject of a six-year football banning order in 2012 when he was imprisoned for an assault on Sheffield Wednesday’s goalkeeper. He was also banned for life by Leeds United.
“West Yorkshire Police was contacted by South Yorkshire Police prior to his recent appeal against his football banning order. Although specialist officers from West Yorkshire have closely monitored Cawley throughout his ban and were aware of various enforcement action, there were was no credible information available to oppose the appeal and this was our response to South Yorkshire. This included reference to our liaison with the Austrian authorities following disorder at a Leeds game in Salzburg in July, although Cawley was not highlighted by police there as a suspect for any offences.
“His previous football banning order was no longer in place when he attended Norwich at the weekend but football liaison officers from West Yorkshire became aware of him being there and notified club staff and the fact he was subject of a lifetime ban by Leeds United. There were no criminal offences disclosed.
“We have been in contact with Leeds United since the Norwich game and the club has reaffirmed its commitment to its lifetime ban on Cawley.
“West Yorkshire Police will continue to work alongside football clubs to ensure that games are safe for all to enjoy and that those who seek to use them as a focus for trouble are not welcome.”
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