Belfast Telegraph

Clubs vow to punish thugs after Birmingham rioting

Birmingham City and West Midlands Police were yesterday beginning the task of identifying what the club called the “trouble-causers” who marred Wednesday's Carling Cup victory over Aston Villa.

The final whistle prompted a pitch invasion by Birmingham fans, who ran to the end housing 3,800 Villa supporters.

Flares and missiles, including torn-out seats, were traded before the police line forced the home fans back.

In ugly scenes in the streets and pubs outside St Andrew's, before and after the game, 27 people were injured.

Fourteen required hospital treatment, including four police officers and a man knocked unconscious after suffering a head injury. Seven arrests were made.

Birmingham, who may face disciplinary action by the FA, will host a meeting about the violence next week. Villa will attend, along with the local authority, emergency services and police.

Because it was a cup-tie, police had reluctantly waived their usual insistence on Second City derbies being staged on Sunday lunchtimes.

The process of putting names to faces has already started, a statement from Birmingham promising “no effort will be spared”.

“Club officials are working with police in scouring CCTV footage and photography — as well as ploughing through witness statements sent to the club by supporters — to identify culprits,” it read.

“Anyone found guilty of any disorder will face stringent action. The club is also determined to maintain the family-friendly atmosphere inside the stadium that only a couple of years ago saw the club win football's Family Excellence Award.

“Anyone who threatens to derail Birmingham City's ethos of welcoming families is not welcome.”

The match-day commander, Superintendent Steve Graham, described the missile-throwers as bringing “shame on themselves, their clubs and their city” and warned them to give themselves up.

“This incident must have been very frightening for the vast majority of spectators who didn't cause problems,” he said. “Unfortunately, a visible minority used the match as an excuse to cause trouble.

“I urge anyone involved to hand themselves in to police before we come to their homes and arrest them.

“In addition to a criminal conviction, those found guilty of football-related violence face a lifetime ban by the club and a banning order to prevent them attending matches.”

The Football Association have also indicated they will carry out a full investigation and called for any identified culprits to be banned.

An FA spokesperson said: “We wholly condemn the actions of any individuals who have been involved in the scenes of disorder at St Andrew's.

“The FA abhors acts of violent behaviour and we urge the clubs and authorities to identify any individuals involved in disorder, and impose the stiffest available sanctions, including banning orders. The FA will fully investigate the matter in conjunction with the appropriate authorities.”

Villa also pledged full co-operation with the FA and relevant authorities.

Belfast Telegraph


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