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Footballers banned from Cheltenham festival after urinating into glass

File photo of footballer James Collins. Picture by Richard Sellers, Press Association
Kate Ferguson and Ryan Wilkinson

A REPUBLIC of Ireland international is among a group of footballers banned from the Cheltenham Festival after being photographed urinating into a glass which was then emptied over a balcony.

Northampton Town player James Collins (25) - who has played under 19 and under 21 for the Republic - was pictured with MK Dons FC midfielder Samir Carruthers (22) relieving themselves in front of a packed crowd.

England-born Collins, who is on loan from Shrewsbury, was fined by his club.

Carruthers was also fined by his club and suspended from Saturday's game against Brighton.

The photographs also show Bristol City defender Luke Ayling (24) smiling and with his arm around Carruthers as the liquid is poured over the railings.

Cheltenham has blocked the party from attending the second day of the festival.

Carruthers apologised for his behaviour and told Sky Sports News he had "let the club down massively".

Northampton Town Football Club said Collins has been fined the maximum allowable two weeks' wages and warned about his future conduct.

"I cannot apologise enough for my actions and the pictures from my visit to Cheltenham Races yesterday," he said.

"I have completely let myself, my family, the fans, and the two clubs that I represent down and I am sorry to everyone involved.

"My actions are not excusable and whilst the pictures are rather misleading in that there were not people below this balcony and it was only a grassed area, there is still no defence to what happened."

He said his actions were "totally out of character" and he fully accepted the club's punishment.

"I will now focus on what I know I am extremely lucky to do for a career and that is to play football," he said.

Chairman Kelvin Thomas said Collins accepts his actions "have damaged the reputation of the two clubs and football in general".

"We feel that he has taken ownership of his actions and is truly sorry for what he has done," he said.

"By firm and swift action, plus James's contrition, we expect to draw a line under this matter and allow James to concentrate on rebuilding his reputation as a professional footballer."

The four-day festival is one of the highlights of the horse racing season.

Tickets to some of the exclusive enclosures at Cheltenham can cost more than £700 a day, and the images are likely to reignite debate over heavy drinking and vulgar behaviour at racing events.

Some courses have announced stricter dress codes in an attempt to spruce up their image.

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