Clubs reach agreement to ban away fans

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The Independent Football

A fear of violence between rival fans has resulted in a ban being placed on visiting supporters for the games between Manchester City and Millwall. Entry to the two games, scheduled for 6 October at the New Den and 30 January at Maine Road, will be restricted to home fans only. The clubs made the move after discussions with the football authorities.

A fear of violence between rival fans has resulted in a ban being placed on visiting supporters for the games between Manchester City and Millwall. Entry to the two games, scheduled for 6 October at the New Den and 30 January at Maine Road, will be restricted to home fans only. The clubs made the move after discussions with the football authorities.

"This decision has been taken on intelligence and information that the fixtures may be used as a catalyst for football troublemakers from a number of clubs to cause problems," a joint statement from Millwall's chairman, Theo Paphitis, and his City counterpart. David Bernstein, said. "This behaviour impacts on local communities and presents opportunities which may be used by others as a cover to commit crime and engage in anti-social behaviour."

There is a history of trouble between the two clubs, dating back to when they met in the Second Division two seasons ago. Millwall escaped punishment for four pitch invasions by fans at the New Den in September 1998, during which coins were thrown and City players were spat at and threatened. At the time, police said hooligans from other London clubs were involved in the trouble.

In the return game the following February seats were thrown from the Millwall supporters' section of the ground and there were minor skirmishes between fans during and after the game.

The clubs are planning to beam their respective away games back live to their home grounds.

The broadcasters and sponsors of the controversial live Sunday night Football League matches will support any alteration to the kick-off time.

The first game screened by the day-old ITV Sport channel was marred when Burnley's Paul Cook – who had just converted a retaken penalty to seal a 2-0 victory at Sheffield Wednesday – was confronted on the pitch by a Wednesday supporter.

Stan Ternent, the Burnley manager, then ran on to the field to restrain another fan, paving the way for criticism of the 6.15pm kick-off time that allowed supporters to drink through the day.

It was an ugly start to the First Division season, prompting fears over Sunday's Midlands derby between Coventry and Wolverhampton at Highfield Road, and the derby between Wednesday and Sheffield United at Hillsborough on 7 October.

The broadcaster ITV Digital insists it will back any alterations to the kick-off times, while Nationwide, the Football League sponsor, has emphasised the importance of fans' safety.

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