West Ham and Millwall braced for hearing

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The Independent Football

West Ham and Millwall are prepared to mount a vigorous defence as they get ready for the start of a three-day Football Association disciplinary hearing today into the violence that marred their Carling Cup clash in August.

The Hammers are facing four charges and Millwall three, with both clubs having been charged with failing to prevent racist behaviour by fans.

The sides could be forced to play games behind closed doors and may face heavy fines if found guilty following the violent clashes that led to 64 arrests and the stabbing of a Millwall fan outside Upton Park.

The League One outfit had expressed their disbelief at the time of the charges, releasing a statement that read: "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 on to 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?"

A West Ham spokesman had 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."

Each club face charges of racist abuse being perpetrated by their supporters, failing to ensure their supporters refrained from violent, threatening, obscene and provocative behaviour, and a failure to ensure the fans did not throw missiles. West Ham face a further charge of failing to ensure their supporters did not enter the field of play.

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