FA warns of pitch invasion clamp down after Swindon Town players attacked

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Town players are surrounded by Port Vale fans after the match. Photo: PA
Town players are surrounded by Port Vale fans after the match. Photo: PA

The Football Association has warned it will clamp down on the "rise in anti-social behaviour" after players and fans were put "at great risk" by the recent spate of pitch invasions.

It comes after Swindon Town players and fans were allegedly punched and kicked by Port Vale supporters who stormed the pitch on Thursday following Vale's penalty shootout victory.

The incident at the League Two play-off semi-final was not the only recent pitch invasion to raise concern.

The FA confirmed that it is investigating all of the incidents reported and promised that the situation "cannot continue" as it is.

The English Football League condemned the incidents as "unsavoury and unacceptable" and said that, although pitch incursions are dealt with by police and the FA, it would offer its "full support" to the investigations.

The EFL confirmed that measures to kerb the pitch invasion trend would be considered over the summer, including the potential use of "capacity reductions".

On Tuesday, a Nottingham Forest season-ticket holder, Robert Biggs, was jailed for 24 weeks after he headbutted Sheffield United player Billy Sharp and knocked him to the ground.

Thousands flooded the pitch after Everton beat Crystal Palace 3-2 on Thursday. Footage from the night appears to show Palace boss Patrick Vieira involved in an altercation with an Everton fan.

Swindon Town's top scorer Harry McKirdy claimed that coins, lighters and bottles were thrown at him on Thursday night and called on the EFL for action.

He wrote on Instagram: "I'll take the stick and the songs. But bottles, coins, lighters thrown at me, running on and hitting and kicking me/ teammates. Too far.

"Something's got to happen @EFL."

Town's right-back Mandela Egbo posted a picture of his cut nose in the aftermath and said he's been attacked by Vale fans.

 

He wrote: "How you scummy fans get two free shots and only manage a scratch? & I’m supposed to keep my cool - if I react I’m the bad guy right?"

In a statement, the FA said: "We are very concerned about the rise in anti-social behaviour from fans as we reach the end of the season.

"Football stadiums should always be a safe and enjoyable space for everyone, and these incidents are completely unacceptable and have no place in our game.

"It is illegal to enter the pitch area in any stadium and these actions are putting players, fans and people who run the game at great risk.

"This simply cannot continue and we can confirm that we are investigating all of the incidences.

"Clubs play a vital role in addressing this issue and they need to prevent pitch invasions from occurring, as well as taking their own action against those that break the rules and the law.

"The FA will be seeking to do all that it can to work with clubs as well as addressing the issues from a disciplinary perspective.

"We are also reviewing our regulations to help stamp this behaviour out and to ensure the safety of everyone inside a stadium."

In a statement about crowd behaviour, an EFL spokesman said: "Unfortunately, at recent end-of season and Play-Off Semi-Final fixtures we have witnessed a number of unsavoury and unacceptable incidents take place with supporters entering the field of play.

"These are currently under investigation by the relevant authorities and the EFL condemns in the strongest possible terms the reckless actions of individuals who have brought the game into disrepute with this unacceptable behaviour.

"The League is working closely with the Police and Clubs, offering its full support to the ongoing investigations.

"It is vital that those playing the game can do so safe in the knowledge that they will not be subjected to violent, threatening or anti-social behaviour going forward.

"Many people have already lost the privilege of watching their team via club bans this season and further punitive action will follow for those who continue to disregard ground regulations and break the law at football matches.

"We recognise that this lawlessness is being conducted by a small minority of individuals and that the majority of people attending matches are a credit to their club.

"However, it is not acceptable for supporters to enter the field of play at any time given the EFL’s objective is to ensure our matches remain a safe and welcoming one for all.

"Therefore, over the summer we will consider what further measures are now at our disposal, including the potential use of capacity reductions or other similar mitigations.

"Whilst the issue of pitch incursions and the use of pyrotechnic devices are primarily matters that fall within the remit of the Police and Football Association, the EFL continues to work closely and collaboratively with all the relevant parties to address the broader issue of anti-social behaviour. '

 

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