A FOOTBALL fan who posted racist comments on social media and blamed black England players for losing to Italy in the Euro 2020 final penalty shoot-out has appeared in court.

Scott McCluskey, 43, posted a message as a status update on his Facebook profile shortly after England lost in the final on July 11, Warrington Magistrates' Court heard.

Part of the post McCluskey wrote read: "Well it took three ethnic players to **** it up. Unlucky England."

Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho all missed their penalties and were targeted with racist abuse on social media after the game, prompting a political row about racism in both football and society.

The defendant, of Blyth Close, Runcorn, admitted a single charge of sending an offensive or abusive message by a public communication network.

District Judge Nicholas Sanders ordered an urgent probation report on the defendant and said the offence may warrant a "deterrent" sentence.

He will pass sentence on Wednesday.

Simon Green, prosecuting, told the court McCluskey's Facebook post was met with "condemnation and outrage" and was reported by someone who had themselves been affected by racism.

McCluskey claimed he had posted the message to make people laugh, saying, "it was a joke", and later deleted the post, but it was reported to Cheshire Police.

Mr Green said at the time of the posting "feelings were high" and there were already concerns about racist abuse online, particularly aimed at footballers.

Dave Robb, defending, said: "This is a 42-year-old man with no previous convictions who has admitted his guilt at the first opportunity."

District Judge Sanders said: "The reality is these posts were sadly widespread and attracted national condemnation, rightly - grossly offensive.

"And in terms of sentencing, the purpose of sentencing, not only should the court look at rehabilitation but also a deterrent sentence might be appropriate as well.

"It is something that is revolting. Nobody should abuse anyone for the colour of their skin, to do so against three young men, clearly doing their very best for their country, is frankly sickening."

McCluskey was given bail but told to remain within the court building while an urgent Probation Service report was prepared before the judge passes sentence.