The referee in charge of Saturday’s controversial match between Newry City and Larne has described the mass brawl that erupted on the pitch as “anarchy”.
During Saturday’s game punches and kicks were traded between players and coaching staff as the match exploded into a pitch battle. Referee Raymond Crangle abandoned the match after 82 minutes when he and his assistants walked off.
Mr Crangle left his match report into the IFA yesterday afternoon and said the events were like “nothing I have witnessed in my whole career as a referee, even in junior matches”.
IFA president Raymond Kennedy has said both clubs could be kicked out of the competition following the brawl and an investigation is being launched.
Despite photographs showing the violence as it erupted, police have yet to make any arrests. A spokesman said a number of individuals were spoken to but no complaints were made.
Former Lord Mayor of Belfast and Sport NI member Jim Rodgers said: “We are increasingly finding levels of violence in a lot of sports games. This was the most serious in a long time and there are worries that this type of thing is happening too often.
“But it would be a terrible thing if clubs were put out of the league because of this violence. Obviously action will have to be taken and I have every confidence that the IFA will handle it correctly.“
Newry City chairman Paul McKenna said he expects his players to be exonerated, but Archie Smith, chairman of Larne Football Club, said they would be launching their own full investigation into what happened and said someone should be punished.
“The football club completely condemns violence on and off the pitch,” he said.
“We are holding our own investigation to try to find out what the cause of it all was. Pictures can only show certain things, you cannot tell what really happened just by looking at them.
“That’s why we are making sure we find out exactly who was responsible so we can administer the right punishment whether it be suspension, dismissal or fines.”