A THUG footballer booted off an American scholarship escaped jail “by the skin of his teeth” after he punched three opponents during an amateur match.
Lytham Town striker Gareth Moore, 22, was incensed at a tackle on a team-mate and went on to commit “pretty disgraceful” assaults on the players from West Lancashire League rivals Longridge Town.
The sports marketing employee was then heard to bawl: “Who’s next? Who wants to be number four?”
One of his victims suffered a broken nose during the game on February 25, which had to be abandoned, Preston Crown Court Court heard.
Moore had a previous conviction and a caution for two drunken nightclub assaults in 2010.
His problems were said to have begun when he lost his scholarship in the United States after he was caught with a partner in his room and had to return home.
Moore, who works for Manchester-based Eleven Sports Media, was arrested and told officers he acted in self defence.
He pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and two common assaults on the day of his scheduled trial last month.
Dave Ryan, defending, said Moore, of Kent Road, Blackpool, was a hard-working young man who had a promising career as a footballer.
Moore received a 12-month term, suspended for two years, was ordered to perform 140 hours of unpaid work and observe a six-week curfew between 8pm and 6am.
He was also told to pay £750 compensation to one footballer and £75 each to the other two footballers.