STAN Ternent has been cleared of headbutting a family friend.

The ex-Clarets boss had denied attacking Greg Wilson and told the jury there had been an accidental "collision of heads" following a row at Burnley Cricket Club.

A jury at Lancaster Crown Court today took just 40 minutes to unanimously clear Mr Ternent, who managed Burnley between 1998 and 2004.

Earlier a glowing character reference from Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, in which he said he would "trust Stan with my life", was read to court.

Sir Alex said: "I have known Stan and his wife Kathy, since I came to Manchester some 20 years ago, when I took up the post at Manchester United.

"Over the years we have become great friends and colleagues through the clubs we managed and Stan often helped me with games when I had players coming back from injury.

"Stan is one of the most honest and direct people I have ever come across in the football game.

"He has always been forthright and sometimes blunt, but I like that sort of person and Stan is one I would trust with my life.

"Knowing Stan the way I do, I would expect him to defend himself. He is definitely not an aggressor."

Mr Ternent, who lives in Cliviger with his wife Kath, broke down while giving evidence in his defence yesterday.

He gave a tearful account of how being arrested and questioned by police before going on trial had taken its toll on him and his family.

Mr Ternent told the court that he attended Burnley Police Station two days after the incident.

He described being faced with a sea of photographers and camera crews.

The former Burnley boss then broke down and said: "I felt embarrased because it was wrong.

"It's been difficult not just for me but for the family and everyone involved."

Mr Wilson, 27, of Kiddrow Lane, Burnley, had claimed he had been "headbutted" at Burnley Cricket Club during a Worsley Cup final between Burnley and Nelson last year.

He told the court that he had been left "scarred for life" following the incident on August 6.

However Mr Ternent told the court that he ducked to avoid being hit and it was then they clashed heads.

Mr Ternent told the court: "I wish I'd hadn't gone to the cricket club that day."

The court heard that the incident unfolded as Mr Ternent was talking to Mr Wilson's father Harry, a long time friend of his.

Harry Wilson gestured to Mr Ternent to speak to his son, Greg.

Mr Ternent said he then patted Greg Wilson's stomach and said "you look well" .

But Mr Ternent said that Mr Wilson "blew up into a rage" and stormed off.

He told how during his football career he had been verbally abused by fans and even spat at, but had never retaliated.

Describing himself as "not a regular drinker", he said he had only had one drink, a can or lager at the match.

He said: "He just blew up and flew into a rage and started calling me a pr*** and c***.

"It was horrendous. I said 'what's your problem'?

"I got the impression he'd had an argument with his father when I arrived.

"I was upset and embarrassed and wanted to know what I had done wrong so I followed him."

Mr Ternent said he shouted after him but called out the wrong name, his brother's Alex, and was again shouted at and called a 'pr***'".

He said there was a collision of heads and that Harry Wilson was "hysterical" and threw a glass of red wine over him.

An off-duty police officer witnessed the incident and reported it to Burnley police.

Earlier in the day, a written character reference from Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, was read out in court.

In it he said Mr Ternent was a "highly regarded professional" and that his reputation in Burnley was "second to none".

The court was told that Mr Ternent, 61, had no previous convictions and that the Football Association had never had a compliant made against him.

On the first day of his trial, former Wigan boss Paul Jewell and Luton manager Kevin Blackwell gave evidence.

They both described how a book co-written by Mr Ternent, entitled Stan The Man, in which it claims he violently attacked the pair in separate incidents during matches, were "fabricated" stories.

The jury also heard from witnesses husband and wife, Marilyn and Eric Bythell, who lives near Turf Moor.

They both described seeing the clashing of heads and said it was Mr Wilson who was acting "aggresively. "