Glentoran’s Board of Directors have called for clarification on a number of issues surrounding the recent controversial Boxing Day Big Two derby at Windsor Park — including what they describe as the singing of ‘party songs’ by the home supporters during the game.
The Glens Board met this week and have released a statement in which they say that problems with policing, stewarding and also the igniting of a firework in the Kop Stand which housed the Linfield fans, need to be investigated.
Glentoran, rightly, bore the brunt of the blame following incidents in the stands which saw seats, fireworks, bottles and other missiles thrown from the North Stand towards the pitch and the Kop, though there was some retaliation from Linfield supporters.
The match had to be stopped for seven minutes during the second half as riot police were called to quell the violence.
Now Glentoran have issued a statement, seemingly calling for the IFA and authorities to look at the bigger picture surrounding the unsavoury incidents.
The statement reads: “If positive identification from reliable sources is made of those involved in inappropriate action that brings the club into disrepute the Board will ensure sanctions are taken against them.
“The club prides itself in its proactive approach to eliminating unacceptable behaviour and has made massive strides in recent years resulting in it now being affectionately known as "The Peoples' Club". It should be noted, for example, that action is being taken against the "supporter" who was apprehended during the recent Setanta Cup final in Cork.”
It continued: “The Boxing Day incident raised a number of issues on which we will seek clarification. These include problems in regard to stewarding and policing, the prolonged singing of ‘party songs’ in the Kop (contrary to UEFA 10 Point Plan), fireworks being launched from Kop towards the North Stand and the non-functioning of the PA system in North Stand.
“We must not lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of the large crowd behaved superbly well and for their sake it is vital every effort is made to eliminate any unsavoury incidents that detract from their enjoyment and safety.
“Glentoran will co-operate fully with any official investigations into the events of 26 December. Hopefully any such investigations will be transparent, objective and constructive.”
Further to the statement, Glentoran chairman Aubry Ralph told the Belfast Telegraph that he expects the club to be punished.
“I think it’s probably certain that we will have some kind of punishment — probably monetary,” he said. “I don’t really see how that will help matters, unless the money from a fine went towards funding security for future games.”
He added: “Basically the reasoning behind the statement being released, and some matters brought to light, is that if we are to be punished then we want certain issues dealt with so that perhaps in the future, these kinds of incidents can be avoided.
“We are certainly not trying to pass on any blame for what happened.”
The statement itself will form part of a report which Glentoran will hand in to the IFA to give their version of events as to what actually happened.