Blackpool striker Bobby Grant has been cleared of allegations he racially abused a black opponent.
A jury found unanimously in favour of Grant who said Dagenham and Redbridge defender Gavin Hoyte “misunderstood” him when he threw an insult after the player trod on his toe during a league game when Grant played for Rochdale.
The 23-year-old gave evidence at Snaresbrook Crown Court yesterday telling Judge William Kennedy he had not racially abused Hoyte as had been claimed, but used a non-racial swear word. The exchange took place at the Dagger’s ground in Victoria Road, Dagenham, on January 12 in the dying minutes of the game.
Moments later a challenge for a header between the two players saw Hoyte come off worst leading him to face up to Grant, of Enstone Avenue, Liverpool, and accuse him of being racist before making a complaint to the referee.
“I said ‘what are you on about?’ when he asked me if I was being racist,” said Grant.
During a phone call between the two players later that day, prompted by their respective managers, Grant told Hoyte: “You have massively misunderstood what I have said,” though racial abuse allegations were still made against him.
The striker was interviewed by police in February where he again denied using a racial slur, telling officers: “I don’t say those kind of things. I have black friends, I have black team mates. It isn’t in my nature.”
Asked in court by defence solicitor Robert Shaw how being accused of using a racial slur had made him feel, he said: “I was frustrated and I was upset to be honest because I have never been involved in anything like that.
“I’m not that type of lad. I don’t use racist language.”
Grant was cleared of the charge of racially aggravated intentional harassment.