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Ballymena and Warrenpoint charged with spectator misconduct by IFA


Ugly scenes: Warrenpoint goalkeeper Mark Byrne clashed with Ballymena supporters on Saturday

Ugly scenes: Warrenpoint goalkeeper Mark Byrne clashed with Ballymena supporters on Saturday

Ugly scenes: Warrenpoint goalkeeper Mark Byrne clashed with Ballymena supporters on Saturday

Ballymena United and Warrenpoint Town have both been charged with "spectator misconduct" by the Irish Football Association following the events of their Irish Cup tie on February 1.

An unsavoury incident occurred at the end of the sixth round tie at Milltown, which saw Warrenpoint goalkeeper Mark Byrne jump and fence and enter the away section of fans during the game.

Video footage of the game showed him grappling and fighting with Ballymena supporters, who also spilled onto the pitch as a result of the fracas behind the goal.

Hard-hitting statements were issued by both clubs in the aftermath, with Warrenpoint claiming that Byrne was "physically assaulted" and the subject of "sectarian verbal abuse".

Ballymena responded the next day with a complete rejection of both claims, adding that they were "extremely disappointed" with what the Milltown outfit said.

Now the two teams will have to answer the charges in front of an IFA Disciplinary Panel, which will convene on Wednesday 19 February to hand out sanctions for the events at Milltown.

Goalkeeper Byrne - who was red carded for the incident - has also been charged with a breach of "bringing the game into disrepute" (Article 17) and "assault or battery of an opponent or other person" (Article 18.13).

The PSNI, who launched their own enquiries into the incident alongside the IFA's inquest, commented on their own investigation: "A number of individuals have been spoken to and enquiries are continuing."

In the past, the IFA have handed out several suspensions for offences covered by the Articles both the teams and Byrne have been charged with.

With regards to the two teams' breach of Article 33, there has been one previous instance of this back in March 2018, when Glenavon player-manager Gary Hamilton was given a five-match ban for "unsporting conduct" towards the fourth official in a game in which he was sent off.

There have been plenty more instances of suspensions dished out for "bringing the game into disrepute", however, including Jay Donnelly's four-and-a-half month ban back in April 2019 after being found guilty of sharing an indecent image of a child.

The longest suspension handed out was for five Crewe United players, who were banned for 13 months and fined £400 in April 2017 for placing bets on their own game against Warrenpoint.

Institute player Ronan Doherty was slapped with an eight week suspension in March 2019 for betting infringements, while Linfield boss David Healy served six games after being sent to the stands for a third time in one season back in March 2017.

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