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'Hard core' blamed for match attack

Published 05/05/2010

A hard core of about 100 Luton football fans has been blamed for an outbreak of violent post-match disorder
A hard core of about 100 Luton football fans has been blamed for an outbreak of violent post-match disorder

A hard core of about 100 football fans has been blamed for an outbreak of violent post-match disorder in which brooms and mops were hurled at police.

Seven people were arrested following Monday afternoon's non-league match between Luton Town and York City.

Luton supporters invaded the pitch after their team lost 1-0 to York in the Blue Square Premier League semi-final play-off, Bedfordshire Police said.

Six of those arrested were released on bail pending further inquiries. The seventh man, a Scandinavian who had been due to fly home on Tuesday, remained in police custody.

The seven were arrested on suspicion of public order and drunk and disorderly offences, Bedfordshire Police said. Further arrests are expected following a review of CCTV evidence. Missiles including coins were thrown at York's players and riot police were called in after the Hatters' defeat at their home ground Kenilworth Road.

The trouble appeared to flare up when Luton supporters invaded the pitch, police said. Stewards and police had to help York's players to escape to the dressing rooms, via the away end, as missiles were thrown. The violence then spilled over to nearby Dunstable Road, where a small number of fans attacked police with mops and brooms they found outside a DIY store.

Banning orders will be sought against those responsible as part of a long-term solution to deal with fans "intent on causing violence at games in the future", the Bedfordshire constabulary said.

Ch Insp Bob Johnston, match commander on the day, said the level of violence and threats of violence demonstrated by some of the supporters against police officers was significant and that his staff responded appropriately and professionally under extreme provocation.

"Our aim was to keep the two groups of opposing fans separate, which we did, and get the away fans out of Luton. There was a hardcore group of around 100 who we want to trace and get banning orders against so that they cannot return next season for a repeat performance."

Luton chairman Nick Owen also vowed to launch an inquiry into the scenes which followed his side's failed attempt to return to the Football League. Owen described the post-match clashes as "absolutely dreadful".

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