Millwall rocked by FA charges

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The Independent Football

Millwall were "shocked and disappointed" yesterday after being hit with three disciplinary charges by the Football Association over the crowd violence at the infamous Carling Cup match at West Ham.

West Ham have been issued with four charges, while both clubs have been charged with failing to prevent racist behaviour by fans, and the two London sides could be forced to play matches behind closed doors.

League One club Millwall responded to the charges by saying they were powerless to influence events inside another team's stadium.

Before the match on 25 August, a 44-year-old season-ticket holder was taken to hospital with stab wounds and several others were injured outside Upton Park.

Millwall said in a statement: "Millwall Football Club are shocked and disappointed that charges have been issued against us in respect of events that took place at West Ham.

"We maintain that we did everything in our power with regard to our ticketing arrangements for this game. Furthermore we expressed our concerns in advance about ticket allocations and arrangements in general.

"It was widely acknowledged that none of our supporters came onto the pitch, and indeed the behaviour and forbearance of our fans brought praise from media observers on the night.

"Our question for the Football Association is what can Millwall Football Club do to control individuals' actions once inside our opponents' stadium.

"We have, and we continue to assist the authorities in their investigations into the events of that evening."

West Ham admitted the behaviour of a minority of fans was "appalling" but said that they had closely followed police advice.

A West Ham spokesman said: "In advance of the Millwall match, the club followed the strict advice of the police and relevant authorities at every stage of the planning process.

"That full co-operation continued on the night with the club working closely with police on a carefully set-out plan that was initiated and approved by the independent safety advisory group.

"We do acknowledge the appalling behaviour of a minority of fans inside the stadium and, in conjunction with the police, will continue to take strong and appropriate action against anyone found responsible."

A full range of sanctions are available to the FA.

Each club faces charges of:

- Failure to ensure their supporters refrained from violent, threatening, obscene and provocative behaviour.

- Failure to ensure their supporters refrained from racist behaviour.

- Failure to ensure their supporters did not throw missiles, harmful or dangerous objects onto the pitch.

West Ham have also been charged with failure to ensure their supporters did not enter the field of play - there were three pitch invasions during the Carling Cup second-round tie.

West Ham striker Carlton Cole and Millwall's Jason Price both claim they suffered racist abuse during the match, which the home side won 3-1.

The clubs have 14 days to respond to the FA before dates are set for the disciplinary hearings.