FA to investigate violence at New Den

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The Independent Football

Millwall and Liverpool fans have blamed each other for the violence which marred Tuesday night's Carling Cup third-round tie at The New Den.

Lions supporters have denied that chants about the Hillsborough disaster prompted the violence which led to 68 seats being ripped out in the visitors' section of the ground and four supporters - three from Liverpool and one from Millwall - being ejected from the ground.

Millwall's official supporters' group insisted that Liverpool fans were to blame for the trouble, which the Football Association confirmed yesterday it will investigate.

Fans of the Premiership club allege that the violence in the away end of the ground was caused by chants from a section of home fans about the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, when 96 fans were killed before the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

However, Joe Broadfoot, a board member of the Lions' Trust - Millwall's official supporters' club, said: "I did not hear any chanting about Hillsborough, and nor did anybody around me."

Police had to put on riot gear to prevent Liverpool supporters reaching the pitch, and a disabled supporter at the edge of the field was injured in ugly scenes which occurred 15 minutes from time and at the end of the visitors' 3-0 win.

Broadfoot added: "If there was chanting, why did the TV microphones not pick it up, and why did none of the security staff hear it?"

Liverpool fans alleged that a section of Millwall supporters were chanting "Hillsborough" and "You should have all died at Hillsborough".

The FA plans to speak to both clubs and the police, as well as reviewing the report of the referee, Alan Wiley. But English football's governing body would not say when it will make a decision whether to take action over the incident. A spokesman said: "The key factor is to get as many details as we can, rather than setting an unrealistic dateline."

The Millwall chairman, Theo Paphitis, claimed his club was the innocent party. In a statement published on the club's official website, Paphitis said: "The facts are that Liverpool fans clashed with riot police in the lower tier of the North Stand and appeared to be attempting to get at Millwall supporters.

"The suggestion is that they were provoked by chanting referring to the Hillsborough tragedy, but there was no chanting of this nature that was clearly audible to the majority of people in the ground."

Paphitis claimed the presence of a Liverpool supporter in the West Stand had caused the violence. "Having studied CCTV footage, our belief is that the catalyst for the trouble was a Liverpool fan who had bought a West Stand ticket from a tout," he said.

However, Phil Hammond, a spokesman for the Hillsborough Families Support Group, attacked the south London club's fans. He said: "They are a disgrace, the scum of the earth. How can people chant like that about the dead? There were people in the Liverpool end who still have terrible memories of what happened at Hillsborough and it only takes a little spark for it all to come back into their minds."