Kick-off time takes the blame

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The Independent Online

The Sports Minister Richard Caborn has called for a review of early-evening kick-offs for high-profile matches following the attack on the Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll in yesterday's FA Cup fifth round game at Everton.

The Sports Minister Richard Caborn has called for a review of early-evening kick-offs for high-profile matches following the attack on the Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll in yesterday's FA Cup fifth round game at Everton.

The match was also overshadowed by violence in the streets after the game, and 33 arrests for public order offences were made after fans clashed in the Everton Valley district. Five police officers were injured.

The decision to schedule the game for 5.30pm on a Saturday evening had been questioned before the match, and Caborn said, "We may have to rethink the 5.30pm kick-off. If a match is going to be high pressure, and [Saturday] was certainly one of those, perhaps we have to put it on earlier. I'm not saying the police got it wrong, we just have to learn by these things."

Merseyside's Assistant Chief Constable, Mick Gianassi, said that the kick-off time was not too instrumental in the problems.

"We took that into account when we spoke to the club and the television company about the time of the game and our resources that we had available reflected that," he said. "That is why we were able to bring it under control very quickly.

"The reality is that about 300 or 400 people came here intent on causing trouble and it really wouldn't have mattered what time of the day that was. Tomorrow the chief constable will be talking to the FA and the clubs about the situation and look to find a resolution."

Everton's head of communications, Ian Ross, said: "We understand this was pre-arranged, but it took place more than a mile from the stadium."

Speaking about the object that hit Carroll on the head, Ross said video footage had been "quite conclusive" and that the culprit, described by him as "a mindless moron", will, if identified, be banned from the club for life.

Ross said that Everton will also mount an investigation after Wayne Rooney was involved in a spat with sponsors before the game. The incident occurred as the United striker, making his first return to the club since leaving last summer, was leaving the field after warming up.

Rooney was seen exchanging words with two members of the group of match-ball sponsors, who had been waiting on the pitch to be photographed. Everton sources claim Rooney was upset by the incident and that police were aware.

"There was an exchange between the sponsors and Wayne Rooney and we view the situation very seriously and it will be investigated," Ross said. "We will want to hear the sponsors' side before taking any action."

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