Arrested Everton fan faces lifetime stadium ban after missiles launched at Aston Villa pair

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Everton should face 'serious punishment' for hurling missiles at Aston Villa players - Premier League
Everton should face 'serious punishment' for hurling missiles at Aston Villa players - Premier League

The Football Association launched an investigation on Saturday afternoon after Aston Villa players were struck with a plastic bottle as Everton vowed to press for criminal charges and impose a life ban.

Any hope of an uplift following the dismissal of Rafael Benitez was wrecked, not only by a 1-0 home defeat which leaves the club deep in a relegation fight, but the appalling incident on the stroke of half-time. Former Everton full-back Lucas Digne and right-back Matty Cash were struck as they celebrated what proved to be the winning goal by Emi Buendia. Both fell to the ground, although they were not badly hurt. Everton immediately confirmed a supporter was arrested after “several objects” were thrown.

“Everton security staff and Merseyside Police identified the supporter using CCTV footage,” said the club. “Several objects were thrown towards the pitch following Aston Villa’s goal at the end of the first half, with one missile appearing to strike two opposition players. Investigations in conjunction with the police are ongoing, and the club will issue bans to any fans identified throwing objects.”

Duncan Ferguson, the Everton caretaker manager, condemned those responsible. “I never saw the incident but I have been told about it,” he said. “That is totally wrong.”

Villa manager Steven Gerrard said he was unaware of what happened until after the game. “The players never let anything affect them,” Gerrard said. “I don’t want to comment on what may or may not have happened at this stage.”

The problems off the pitch continued for Everton after full time when a few hundred fans refused to leave the stadium and chanted and revealed banners demanding “sack the board”.

Matty Cash and Lucas Digne of Aston Villa on the ground after being struck by objects thrown at them during celebrations - Getty Images
Matty Cash and Lucas Digne of Aston Villa on the ground after being struck by objects thrown at them during celebrations - Getty Images

Their prime target was chairman Bill Kenwright as they demanded he give up his senior position. Majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, who has invested more than £500 million since his 2016 takeover, had tried to appease irate fans in an open letter on Friday. The tensions have in fact grown with Everton’s 19 points from 20 games their lowest points tally since the 1997-98 season, when they just escaped relegation.

“The fans can protest and say what they want because it is their club. They are entitled,” Ferguson said. “I know how sick they are. I am as gutted as them. There are fans who are not happy. It is their right how they want to support the club.”

There were further worrying incidents at Old Trafford and St Mary’s on Saturday as the issue of crowd disturbance continued to cause concern.

Four arrests were made, including one on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker, in the away end as West Ham lost 1-0 at Manchester United. Some Manchester City fans ran on to the pitch at full-time following their 1-1 draw with Southampton.

Speaking as pundit on BT Sport, who were covering the game, former England midfielder Jermaine Jenas, said there needed to be strong deterrents to prevent a repeat.

“It’s becoming too often in the Premier League now,” he said. “It’s disgusting. It’s going back to old times, the dark ages of football. Bottles and coins being thrown on to the pitch.

“There needs to be some serious punishments handed out to all the clubs behaving in this way. This has happened at various stadiums all season and they need to stamp it out.”

An FA spokesperson said: “We will investigate the incident and will be liaising with the club and the police as a matter of urgency.”

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