Dundee FC manager James McPake was cleared of hurling homophobic abuse at students during a pub brawl which saw his former teammate headbutt a teenager.
Forfar player and former Dundee coach Gary Irvine admitted attacking Drew Rumgay, 19, after being taunted about bad results for his team.
Mr Rumgay and his friend Owen Kane told the court McPake had called them a homophobic name during the bust-up before Irvine launched the attack.
However, McPake denied making any homophobic slur and said he had called them a different, but not homophobic, name after they mocked him over his career-ending knee injury.
Dundee United supporters Mr Rumgay and Mr Kane, 19, accepted they had taunted the football manager about a pair of 6-2 wins in the city derby in recent years.
McPake, 36, told Dundee Sheriff Court that he, Irvine and the club’s kit lady had been attending a charity testimonial match earlier in the day.
They had gone to The Braes bar later in the evening and became aware of the students as they appeared to be taking photographs of McPake and sniggering.
He said: “The phones were out and they were sniggering, laughing and nodding over. I’ve had this before throughout my career.
“I got in a situation I shouldn’t have got myself in. I wasn’t overly angry. I know I need to be careful in what I’m doing.
“I am disappointed I didn’t just walk out. I made a comment I regret, but it wasn’t the comment referred to.”
He said one of the teenagers said “watch your knee as you walk out of the door” and he understood it to be a jibe out the injury which ended his playing career.
He said they also said “6-2, f*** off” as he was leaving and knew they were taunting him about a match he played in for Dundee and one where he managed the club last year.
Architecture student Mr Rumgay told the court McPake said he shouldn’t be taking photographs of him before he made the slur.
He added: “I was annoyed, to say the least. I said ‘6-2 f*** off’ after.”
He denied calling McPake “a cripple.”
Second year psychology student Owen Kane told the trial: “As they were leaving Mr McPake started staring at us. There was a bit of back and forth.”
The court was told that Mr Rumgay’s brother was a police officer and had encouraged them to report the former Hibs player for his comments.
Sheriff David Clapham said the Crown had not proved beyond doubt that McPake had made homophobic remarks and he was found not guilty.
Prior to the start of the trial, Irvine changed his plea and admitted assaulting Mr Rumgay under provocation in The Braes on 6 October last year.
Irvine, 35, from Dundee, admitted headbutting his victim and causing bruising to his face.
Fiscal depute Sue Ruta said: “There had been some kind of verbal exchange. Mr Irvine pressed his head towards Mr Rumgay.
“Mr Rumgay told him to f*** off and made reference to a recent scoreline in Dundee. This seemed to anger the accused Irvine and he headbutted Mr Rumgay once to the left side of his cheek.”
Solicitor Gary McIlravey, defending, said: “There was reference to 6-2 and comments about the former co-accused’s leg injury.
“Mr Irvine had words and told them they were out of order. There was something of a head-to-head, as he puts it, culminating in a single headbutt.
“He is appalled at his behaviour. It is not in his normal character. I don’t think this is someone who will come before the courts again.
“It is an unusual situation where a certain amount of provocation has been accepted.”
Irvine, who was made redundant as a coach with Dundee, was now said to be earning £200 a week playing part-time for Forfar. He was fined £250.
McPake joined Dundee Football Club from Hibernian in 2014 and went on to make 50 league appearances for the club.
Having retired from playing, he took up the Dundee manager’s post after some time coaching with the club’s academy.
Irvine was an integral part of Dundee’s ‘Dee-fiant’ 2010/11 squad that managed to survive in the top flight despite being deducted 25 points when the club plunged into administration.
The side remained unbeaten for a run of 23 matches, which is a club record. Dundee then exited administration in May 2011.