Plymouth Argyle fined £5,000 after mass confrontation during Stoke City match

Stoke City and Plymouth Argyle have been fined £24,000 and £5,000 respectively for a mass confrontation between players from both sides during their Championship match at the bet365 Stadium last month.

Both clubs admitted they failed to ensure their players did not behave in a way which was improper and/or provocative in the 35th minute of the match, which ended in a 3-0 defeat for the Pilgrims.

Argyle accepted the standard penalty while an Independent Regulatory Commission imposed Stoke’s fine following a hearing and cited their 'utterly dreadful" disciplinary record. Click HERE to read in full its written reasons and decision.

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The melee resulted from an incident when Argyle goalkeeper Michael Cooper had a boot grabbed by Million Manhoef after he had slid out to collect the ball before the onrushing City attacker could get to it.

That led to several players from both teams squaring up to each other, with Cooper booked, along with Stoke's Tyrese Campbell and Ki-Jana Hoever, as well as Argyle's Bali Muma for dissent in the aftermath. Hoever was singled out in the written report for his 'mindless aggression' in running half the length of the pitch to shove an opponent.

Stoke had already been fined £12,000 this season for a similar charge of failing to ensure their players did not behave in a way which was improper and/or provocative following an incident during a 1-0 home defeat by Southampton in October.

The Independent Regulatory Commission noted this was their sixth breach of rule E20 in the last five seasons, prompting it to say in its report: "There is the utterly dreadful record that SCFC have for offences of this type, including the previous breach this season.

"The fact that we have the ability to sanction as high as a fine of £100,00 speaks for itself. The measures that SCFC have put in place to avoid their players behaving in such a way, which Mr Laird (club secretary Chris Laird) advances in his mitigation, are clearly not working.

"Incidents of this type do not, in our judgment, reflect well on the image of the club or the game. When they are committed by repeat offenders, such as SCFC, that is an even worse reflection for all concerned.

"It is argued, in mitigation, that the Commission should have regard to both the significance of the match (both clubs being in a relegation battle) and the recent history between the clubs (principally due to the recent move to SCFC from PAFC of the head coach, Mr Schumacher).

"In our judgment, neither of these points provide any mitigation, indeed. In truth, they aggravate SCFC's position. It was all the more important, given the fact that SCFC were in a relegation battle, for players to behave themselves.

"Similarly, given the knowledge of the history between the clubs, there was every reason for SCFC to take even more care to ensure that unsavoury incidents did not occur and we were not presented with any evidence to support any measures that SCFC had proposed to mitigate such.

"The only real mitigation in this case is the admission of the charge. In our judgment an appropriate starting point is a financial penalty of £36,000. We reduce that in SCFC’s case to one of £24,000 to take account of their admission and to reach, in our unanimous view, a proportionate and fair sanction."

Argyle were fined £5,000 after their involvement was deemed to warrant a standard penalty.

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