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Air passenger admits to racially abusing Andy Cole

RACISM VICTIM: Ex-Man United striker Andy Cole (PA)

TWO IRISH men have pleaded guilty in connection with an incident on a plane where ex-Manchester United forward Andy Cole was racially abused.

Lee Patrick Byrne, 28, from Dublin, admitted to the charges of a racially aggravated public order offence and being drunk on the Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Manchester on December 28.

The second defendant, Gregory Horan, 26, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to the charge of being drunk on the aircraft.

Cole, 42, was travelling back from Ireland after working as a broadcasting pundit for an Irish station on the Premier League match featuring Norwich and Man United, which the Red Devils won 1-0.

The pair entered their pleas at a Manchester court on earlier this week, and will be sentenced on January 20.

Byrne and Horan could face prison for the crimes, with a maximum five-year jail term for drunken disorder on aircraft.

The former Newcastle striker, who is the second highest scorer of all-time in the Premier League, behind Alan Shearer, is involved in anti-racism campaigns in the sport – he has worked with Kick It Out, and is a club ambassador for Man United.

On December 30, Cole tweeted: “Can I just say thank you for the tweets and the support.”

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