Aston Villa pitch invasion: FA contact Villa and West Brom after launching investigation into FA Cup crowd trouble

Villa fans invaded the pitch on three occasions while some West Brom supporters ripped up and threw chairs at the home fans in the tier below

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The Football Association has launched an investigation into the crowd incidents at the FA Cup quarter-final tie between Aston Villa and West Brom on Saturday by asking both clubs for their observations.

Play was halted in the closing minutes at Villa Park before home fans streamed onto the pitch in a full-scale pitch invasion at the final whistle and seats were thrown from the end housing West Brom supporters.

An FA statement released on Monday said: "The FA has contacted both Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion to request their observations in relation to the disturbing crowd incidents which occurred during and after their FA Cup quarter-final tie on March 7, 2015."

The FA statement continued: "As well as liaising with both clubs, the FA is working closely with West Midlands Police and notes that a number of arrests have already been made.

"All available video footage will be studied by the relevant parties to identify anyone who has committed a disorder offence inside the stadium and ensure they face the appropriate punishment.

"Whilst its investigation continues, the FA will make no further comment."

 

The FA's statement came after the national lead officer for football policing questioned the scheduling of the high-profile derby clash at 5.30pm on a Saturday evening.

West Midlands Police made 17 arrests related to the game and are seeking witnesses to a disturbance at the Witton Arms pub before the match.

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West Brom goalkeeper Boaz Myhill faces the taunting of an Aston Villa fan

Four of those arrests were for drunk and disorderly behaviour and Mark Roberts from Cheshire Police believes more consideration should be taken over the scheduling of potentially heated fixtures.

"Saturday night football is here to stay, we appreciate that, Friday night football is due to be coming in," he told BBC Radio Five Live .

"When you have these fixtures you have to be careful about which ones you play. All games have potential (for crowd trouble) but clearly some games have more potential than others.

"They are big clubs, not clubs that particularly have a troublesome following but when you have that sort of fixture, late on a weekend in particular, alcohol is a factor.

"If you give people four, five, six hours more drinking time, don't be surprised if, in a highly-charged atmosphere, their behaviour isn't good.

"If you're looking at whether alcohol was a factor, there was disorder at a public house near the ground before the game, people being arrested coming into the ground for being drunk and disorderly, being drunk seeking entry to a football ground.

"If you looked at the people who came onto the pitch, a few of them looked like they were the worse for wear from some substance and I don't think there is any coincidence that where there's alcohol involved, people's behaviour tends to deteriorate."

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A view of the scenes as fans entered the pitch

He added: "I do think there is an issue here for the broadcasters because that game was scheduled for a 5.30 kick-off to meet the BBC's scheduling.

"Broadcasters as well as the football authorities need to start taking these issues seriously.

"What we want is a sensible dialogue so that we schedule the game appropriately. If you look at the four games for the FA Cup quarter-finals this week, you couldn't probably have picked a worse one to have on a Saturday teatime than a local derby between two big clubs."

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A view of the scenes as fans entered the pitch

Villa issued a swift apology on Saturday evening for their fans' behaviour while West Brom vowed to take a "zero tolerance" approach after promising to co-operate fully with the FA inquiry.

And Baggies boss Tony Pulis, who was concerned with the apparent ease in which Villa supporters got onto the pitch, has called for a lifetime ban for any of the club's fans who were found to be responsible for throwing seats.

"If that was the situation, and they've got CCTV cameras up there, those supporters should never come into another football ground," Pulis said.

It is like people coming into someone else's house - you have to show respect."

PA

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