Lee Bowyer, the Premiership footballer, was fined ?600 yesterday for brawling with a team mate in front of 52,000 fans at St James' Park and a television audience of millions.
Magistrates in Newcastle upon Tyne also ordered him to pay ?1,000 costs after he pleaded guilty to a charge of using threatening behaviour against Kieron Dyer. Bowyer, 29, was in court as the magistrates watched a video of the clash, which happened in the 80th minute of Newcastle's 3-0 defeat against Aston Villa in April 2005.
Lee Bowyer grapples with Kieron Dyer, his Newcastle team mate.
The midfielder is seen walking towards Dyer and throwing a punch at him. Both men then tangle and after a brief melee an Aston Villa player intervenes. He drags Bowyer away while another Newcastle player grabs Dyer. Tony Glover, prosecuting, said Bowyer had been frustrated with his team's performance and annoyed at Dyer for not passing to him when he had a goal-scoring chance.
The footballer himself had told police: ""It was a spur of the moment thing - just a moment of madness. I have lost my temper."
Brian O'Neill, for the defence, said "This was a minor spat in which no one was injured and about which no one complained. It could be asked, 'Have not the police got better things to do?' "
Bowyer, who now plays for West Ham United, was originally charged with causing fear or provocation of violence under Section 4 of the Public Order Act 1986.
That charge was amended when the player indicated that he would plead guilty to causing harassment, alarm or distress under Section 5 of the same Act.
Vicky Maier, the presiding magistrate, indicated that she had her colleagues had considered issuing an order that would have banned Bowyer from all of Britain's football stadiums.
However, they had decided that such a punishment would have been "disproportionate" with his offence.
Yesterday, Bowyer claimed outside the courtroom that the incident that led to his departure from Newcastle United had been "blown out of all proportion."
He said that the spat had cost him ?250,000 in lost wages and a ?30,000 fine by the FA. He had apologised on the day and remained a friend of Dyer.
Bowyer's lawyer, Steven Barker, suggested that his client had pleaded guilty simply in order to spare some of his fellow players the embarrassment of giving evidence.
"He did not wish to bring the spotlight upon his fellow professionals for an incident that occurred over a year ago," said Mr Barker.