Football: Villa threaten return of fences

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The Independent Online
ASTON VILLA fans have been warned to keep off the pitch - or face fences going back up at Villa Park. The club were hit by a pounds 12,500 fine on Tuesday for the celebratory pitch invasion which marred their Uefa Cup victory over Internazionale last month.

The club could be given a heftier fine, be forced to play future European games behind closed doors or even be ejected from the competition if there is another invasion in the second-round second-leg match with the Turkish side, Trabzonspor on 1 November, when Ron Atkinson's men will attempt to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg.

'We explained to Uefa officials that it was only exuberance by the fans,' the Aston Villa chairman, Doug Ellis, said. 'There was nothing nasty to it and I pointed out to Uefa that the police made no arrests.'

Villa, who were forced to play the first match in their defence of the European Cup in 1982 behind closed doors in similar circumstances, do not want the fans to invade the pitch again. 'If the trouble recurs, we would certainly have to consider re-erecting fences,' Ellis said. 'We would hate to do that because it goes very much against football thinking.'

Salvatore Cuccu, a Uefa spokesman, said yesterday that the severity of any further punishment would depend on the seriousness of the transgression.

'We would have to look back, but only at the last three or four years,' Cuccu said. 'But the punishment would depend on the official report from the Uefa delegate and the referee.'