Blues begin hunt for derby hooligans
As the head of England's World Cup bid, Andy Anson, pointedly omitted Birmingham from his list of cities while addressing Fifa delegates yesterday, Birmingham City and West Midlands police were beginning the task of identifying what the club called the "trouble-causers" who marred Wednesday's Carling Cup win 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 the match 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 match-day commander, Superintendent Steve Graham, warned the missile-throwers to give themselves up: "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."
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