A heterosexual sales rep repeatedly teased by colleagues for being gay because he was not a football fan has been awarded almost £44,000 for the harassment he suffered.

Michael Austin, 48, a married father-of-one, was also called a ‘crafty butcher’ – slang for homosexual – by his workmates, who were avid Newcastle United supporters, reports the Daily Mail.

Newcastle Employment Tribunal heard that it was ‘quite normal’ in the North East for anyone who does not like football to be considered gay. When Mr Austin made a formal complaint about bullying and inappropriate homophobic and religious remarks, he was summarily sacked from his £25,000-a-year post.

The Tribunal found that Mr Austin, of Durham, suffered ‘atrocious’ bullying by managing director, Mr Laidlaw, and fellow sales executive, Tony Kozlowski.

It found Leeds-based Samuel Grant guilty of harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation and religion and victimisation. The panel awarded Mr Austin £43,755 for loss of earnings and injury to feelings.

In its judgment, it ruled:

“It was a series of treatment by two people over a period of several months during which Mr Austin was treated atrociously, by being referred constantly to being gay, homosexual and a crafty butcher.

“It was extreme, frequent and very unpleasant. All he wanted to do was get out and get on with his job.”

The Tribunal also ordered that the company’s directors and managers must receive diversity training within six months.