Newcastle condemns fans' behaviour

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The Independent Football

A Premier League football club has said it will take the "strongest possible action" after a pitch invasion marred a pre-season friendly and saw three fans arrested.

Newcastle United condemned the "shameful" behaviour of its supporters who invaded the pitch during the away match against Darlington last night.

Three fans arrested by Durham Police remain in custody today following the incursion by hundreds of supporters at the Darlington Arena after Sammy Ameobi's 55th-minute second goal for the visitors.

During the 10 minute delay Newcastle manager Alan Pardew pleaded with fans to leave the pitch and many in the ground thought the match would be abandoned.

Newcastle United managing director Derek Llambias issued a statement which read: "On behalf of everyone at Newcastle United FC, we wholly condemn the behaviour of a number of our supporters who invaded the pitch during the second half of the club's friendly against Darlington this evening.

"The club will be seeking to obtain footage of the disorder from Darlington FC and the police and will be taking the strongest possible action against those individuals responsible for the shameful behaviour.

"This behaviour is not typical of the vast majority of our fans, however this incident gives a poor impression of Newcastle United and its loyal supporters."

Darlington manager Mark Cooper told the club's website the trouble was "disappointing" but said he was relieved no players were injured.

Durham Police confirmed three visiting Newcastle fans were arrested for "pitch incursion" and another was escorted from the ground.

Some of the 9,000-plus crowd thought the match had been abandoned but the referee managed to restart the game after the playing surface was cleared.

Police could not confirm reports of an isolated outbreak of fighting between fans during the match.

A force spokeswoman said: "There has been a crowd of more than 9,700, which is significantly more than expected based on ticket sales.

"Everything was peaceful until Newcastle scored their second goal and a pitch incursion occurred which was high spirited but not violent.

"A further pitch incursion of around 20 to 30 people followed - a Newcastle supporter being escorted from the ground and three Newcastle supporters were arrested for pitch incursion."

The spokeswoman said: "The game ended without incident and crowds have subsequently dispersed."

The match ended 2-0 to the visitors.