Pitch invasion could be Brighton's `death knell': Football

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Brighton, who are bottom of the League, and Leyton Orient could both be hauled before the Football Association after crowd trouble at the Goldstone Ground on Saturday.

The Third Division match was held up for four minutes in the second half after several home fans came onto the pitch, and one allegedly attacked Scott McGleish after he had scored for Orient in the 4-4 draw. Hove police questioned five people in the course of arrests made during and after the game, four of whom have been released on bail.

Liz Costa, the vice-chair of the official Brighton supporters club, believes there was an element of incitement from Orient players and the FA have promised to investigate. Costa said yesterday: "While there is no excuse for what happened and I condemn those who came onto the pitch as highly irresponsible, it must be taken into account that Orient players had been inciting home fans with obscene gestures.

"Brighton's future is still on a knife edge and this was the last thing we needed. It could cost us our League status... The feeling among Brighton fans at what has happened is one of anger. Barry Hearn [the Orient chairman] may be calling for tough action but Orient's part in this must be examined."

An FA spokesman, Steve Double, said: "We are obviously very concerned at the initial reports of players being attacked by fans. We will await the reports from the match officials and if necessary the police, too. We will also consider allegations of possible incitement by players."

Brighton recently failed with their appeal to the FA to win back two points following a pitch invasion in their home game against Lincoln on 1 October, but Double stressed there was no outstanding suspended sentence against the club.

Hearn said: "The security was appalling. This is a very sad day for Brighton and it could be the death knell for them.We simply can't condone what the Brighton fans did and we will protest."