West Ham and Millwall charged over cup fracas

Clubs face big fines while Hammers could be ordered to play behind closed doors
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The Independent Football

West Ham and Millwall were last night formally charged by the Football Association for the pitch invasions and rioting that disfigured their Carling Cup tie at Upton Park last month.

Both clubs face the prospect of heavy fines while West Ham could be ordered to play behind closed doors if they are found guilty of failing to prevent three separate pitch invasions during the 3-1 win on 25 August.

In a statement, the FA, which reviewed evidence from 47 cameras inside Upton Park, said that West Ham and Millwall would each be charged with three offences.

These were: failure to ensure supporters refrained from violent, threatening or provocative behaviour; failure to ensure supporters refrained from racist behaviour; and failure to ensure their supporters did not throw missiles or harmful or dangerous objects on to the pitch.

In addition, West Ham alone are charged with failure to ensure their supporters did not enter the field of play.

Both clubs have 14 days to respond to the charges and, if found guilty, are likely to face heavy fines. With the FA determined to stamp out any trace of hooliganism that might scar its bid for the 2018 World Cup, West Ham could be asked to play matches in an empty stadium, although that sanction is complicated by the fact they have now been eliminated from the Carling Cup.

Gianfranco Zola's team have not won since that night in August and now find themselves in the relegation zone, albeit with games in hand, and tonight facing a Manchester City side ready to add £17m worth of firepower to their attack in the shape of Roque Santa Cruz.

He has a dodgy knee, has not played competitively for six months and City have three other forwards, who cost £92m between them. And yet his manager, Mark Hughes, believes that Santa Cruz still has a major role to play, as much for his mental strength as his ability with a football.

"He has been at Bayern Munich, the biggest club in Germany, so he is used to performing under pressure and at a club with a big profile," Hughes said.

"He has the mentality I need. I blew all my budget on him when I was at Blackburn and that shows you what I thought of him.

"I will never forget his first training session at Blackburn and the reaction the other players showed when they saw what he had produced. He did wonderfully for me there and, if he can replicate even half that, then he will be good value."

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