Phones jammed in rush to name thugs in rush to ident

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The Independent Online
The-spot-the- thug hotline set up by the police and the Football Association to help identify troublemakers filmed at the Dublin riot on Wednesday was last night said to be "jammed" with fans anxious to clear the name of true supporters.

More than 500 calls were logged as the FA vowed that those identified as being involved in the violence would be "banned" from future national games. A spokesman said: "We will no longer be giving anyone the benefit of the doubt." The 0800 515495 hotline will be manned over the weekend.

Last night, police in England were hoping that the weekend's main FA Cup matches - such as Manchester United versus Leeds and the London derby between Millwall and Queen's Park Rangers - do not bring further headaches for the already tarnished international image of English football.

The number of police on duty at the QPR-Millwall match has been increased by 50 per cent to 300. There has been police intelligence reports that supporters of Chelsea, who are not playing today, will aim to cause trouble at the game following violent scenes when they lost their FA Cup replay at home to Millwall last week.

Leeds are taking 6,500 fans to the game at Manchester. In addition the club is sending a coachload of stewards to vet their supporters at the turnstiles.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, those arrested on Wednesday began to appear in court. Stephen Sloan, 21, from Wolverhampton and Stephen Kearns, 23, from Birmingham, were sentenced to two months after admitting causing a breach of the peace. They were later freed on bail after being given leave to appeal.

The two, and a third man who was fined, were arrested by Irish police on Thursday after being recognised from newspaper photographs which showed them attacking a steward. The men claimed they had been made scapegoats. More than 30 English accused have appeared in Dublin courts over incidents related to the match. Most have been fined and ordered to return to Britain, but six have been remanded in custody.

Meanwhile, scathing criticisms of the handling of the riot by senior Dublin police officers were made by the head of the force's own representative association. John Ferry, general secretary of the Garda Representative Association, said ordinary gardai who policed the ground on Wednesday were angry at a series of management failures by their superiors on the night and in security preparations beforehand.

Threat of violence, page 48