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Rival fans clash close to stadium ahead of Coleraine’s Europa tie



Footage on social media shows fans fighting

Footage on social media shows fans fighting

Footage on social media shows fans fighting

Coleraine’s Europa League tie against Scottish Premiership visitors Motherwell was marred by a violent clash between rival fans before last night's game.

Footage published on social media showed hooligans aiming kicks and punches at each other with missiles such as beer bottles being hurled during the fracas.

The trouble took place on the Ballycastle Road at its junction with the Bushmills Road, close to the Coleraine Showgrounds where the match was taking place.

Coleraine councillor Russell Watton of the PUP condemned the incident, stating that there was no place for violence on the streets - adding that those involved in the trouble also risk affecting the return of supporters to stadiums during Covid-19 restrictions. He said: "It's not the type of thing anyone wants to see before a match, that's for sure.

"You want everybody to be on their best behaviour so we can get all the grounds open properly so that people can get to a match, as watching football in empty grounds is a disaster in itself.

"What Coleraine has been achieving on the pitch as a club has been brilliant, because it gives us a chance to compete with Linfield and Glentoran, and we have the biggest support outside Belfast. But you don't want to see it spoiled by things like this - why don't you just go to a match and enjoy the match?

"We want to get back into the grounds and this kind of thing will keep us out of them."

The incident took the gloss of what was a big night for the Irish League club after an historic European run that has seen them win two Europa League qualifiers, including a win in Slovenia over Maribor in the previous round. Their most famous fan, actor James Nesbitt, was back home for the contest and before the game he recorded a social media message of support and said he was "delighted" to be there.

He added: "It's quite odd for me in a way, because it's the first time I've returned up north since I lost my father a few weeks ago, who was a big Coleraine fan. Dad would loved to have been here.

"And you know, the fact that we've come so far is amazing. The fact that we have players who understand how important wearing the stripes are is great."

Belfast Telegraph