An amateur footballer in Perth who shouted homophobic abuse at a gay referee has been ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service.

Dale Ritchie, 25, admitted to a charge of breaching the peace aggravated by prejudice against sexual orientation last month.

The father of two was suspended by Perth United after calling Joe Richardson a “faggot” and a “poof” during a match last year in Bridge of Earn, Perthshire.

Ritchie told Mr Richardson that he was only a referee in order to “watch boys in tight shorts”.

He had been drinking on the sidelines before making the remarks at Mr Richardson.

Defending Ritchie at Perth Sheriff Court on Wednesday, solicitor Billy Somerville said his client had been drinking before the game and had a hazy recollection of the abuse he shouted at the referee.

“I am not trying to minimise the offence itself, but the referee initially thought ignoring it was the best thing to do, but he was persuaded that ignoring it doesn’t work,” STV reports Mr Somerville said.

“I can only imagine that if everyone at a football match who made derogatory remarks to the referee was prosecuted then the prosecutor would be snowed under.”

Sheriff Michael Fletcher noted that Ritchie already had a racially motivated previous conviction and ordered him to work as part of a community payback order.

Mr Richardson, from Dundee, said he gave up football after “six months of hell and lack of support” from the local referees’ association.

He said: “I was homophobically abused and my partner threatened.

“This was reported to the amateur league and I also informed my referees’ association about the abuse and for support in dealing with the matter.

“The secretary told me it was up to me to deal with on my own.”

“I have never hidden the fact I am gay from the players and in 12 years as a referee this is the first time it has been used to abuse me.

“The fact I was left to deal with this on my own has caused depression and left me feeling isolated as at no point did the referee association ask me how I was coping.”

The Angus and Perthshire Referees Association have refused to comment over the allegations.