A MILLWALL fan from Swanley who ran towards the pitch and broke a £400 linesman's flag has been banned from matches for three years.

Ian Wilson, aged 30, from Wisteria Gardens, charged towards the playing area during the Lions' match against high-flying promotion favourites Leicester City on New Year's Day.

The irate fan's actions were sparked after Alan Young failed to award Millwall a corner, in a game they went on to lose 3-1.

Because of the way Wilson was dressed, a steward who saw him coming down the ground's steps assumed he worked at The Den, Bromley Magistrates' Court was told today (January 16), their suspicions only being aroused once he reached the assistant referee.

Prosecutor Colette Hanna explained: "He saw him grab the assistant referee and at this point realised he wasn't a member of staff."

She added: "He grabbed a flag from Mr Young's hand. This caused the flag to break."

The flag was a £400 electronic one and Wilson damaged its clipping mechanism "rendering the flag useless". Afterwards Wilson said that he had not assaulted the linesman but had just taken the flag.

In mitigation, Wilson's solicitor Rhianydd Beard said: "He accepts that he was stupid with his actions and he is very ashamed for his actions. He does have issues with alcohol which he's addressing."

The court was also told the fan, whose partner was in the public gallery, heavily pregnant with Wilson's fifth child, suffers from an impulse control disorder, which he blamed for his crime that day.

She said: "He actually is grateful for the banning order to ensure that this doesn't happen again."

Wilson pleaded guilty to going onto an area adjacent to a playing area and criminal damage.

District Judge Michael Fanning fined Wilson £200 for going into the playing area, along with £400 to cover the cost of the broken flag.

And he issued a three-year order, banning Wilson - whose previous offences include using threatening words and behaviour at Millwall in 2006 - from attending or being in the vicinity of any Millwall games home or away during that time.

Wilson must also surrender his passport if Millwall play abroad during his ban.

Millwall FC are considering whether to take any further action against the fan.