Police charge more than 40 away fans after major disorder outside Villa Park

A total of 46 Legia Warsaw supporters were detained on Thursday after missiles and flares were thrown at police outside the stadium.

Matthew Cooper
Saturday 02 December 2023 12:38 GMT
Police officers with dogs as flares are set off outside Villa Park (David davies/PA)
Police officers with dogs as flares are set off outside Villa Park (David davies/PA)

Police have charged 46 men after Legia Warsaw supporters attacked police outside Villa Park in Birmingham on Thursday.

West Midlands Police said five officers, two police dogs and two police horses were injured when missiles were thrown by visiting fans during the Europa Conference League fixture.

In a statement confirming details of the charges, the force said 43 men have been charged with a public order offence, two with assaulting police officers and another with possession of a knife.

The statement added: “Those charged are aged between 21 and 63, and around 40 are believed to be from Poland. A small number are believed to be UK residents.

“All apart from one of the men is due in court today. He has been bailed to appear at a later date. A special court has been set up at Birmingham magistrates and will begin hearing the cases this morning.”

Officers are continuing to review CCTV and body-worn video footage to identify further suspects after “what was an appalling and violent public disorder”.

Two West Midlands Police officers, two from West Mercia and one from Derbyshire Police suffered minor injuries during the violence.

Detective Superintendent Jim Munro, who is overseeing the criminal investigation, said: “Our investigation is very much continuing and we’ll be reviewing footage and speaking to witnesses over the coming days.

“To charge this number of people so soon after such a major disorder has taken a huge effort by staff who have been working around the clock.

“We’ve had a number of messages of thanks from the club and fans who were present on Thursday night and saw the policing operation first hand, and we are really grateful for that support.”

Police said fans of the Polish side were not allowed into the stadium after missiles were thrown at officers before the start of the match.

West Midlands mayor Andy Street has called for European football chiefs to take “strong action” as he thanked the “brave officers” and criticised the “deeply unpleasant scenes”.

In a previous statement, Chief Inspector Tim Robinson said: “This should have been a great evening of football which was enjoyed by fans from both clubs. Unfortunately, there were appalling scenes which saw away fans dangerously throw flares and other missiles at our officers.”

He said the “extreme violence” left police with no other choice but to prevent away fans entering the stadium, adding: “The safety of everyone is our priority and clearly we had no other option.”

We strongly object to Legia Warsaw being blamed for Thursday's incidents in Birmingham

Legia Warsaw

Villa filed an official complaint to UEFA on Friday, but the Polish club have hit back, putting the blame on their hosts.

“In compliance with UEFA regulations and public law, Aston Villa, as the host club, along with local authorities, has a responsibility to ensure an adequate level of security both inside the stadium and in its immediate surroundings,” they said in a statement.

“Prior to our match against Aston Villa, we have consistently maintained that our responsibility extends only to individuals entering the visitors’ sector with tickets distributed by us.

“No club should be held accountable for the actions of unidentified individuals without tickets for the match.

“Our staff arrived in Birmingham earlier than usual and maintained continuous communication with the English club, UEFA, and the local police. We repeatedly informed the British counterparts about necessary measures for the security of the venue and its vicinity.

“Despite this, the British police, in their official responses, only acknowledged the potential risks without implementing our suggestions.

“Regrettably, due to the actions and inactions of Aston Villa FC, adverse incidents occurred.

“By disregarding our constructive feedback, the host club bears full responsibility for the situation.

“Aston Villa FC breached UEFA regulations multiple times – initially by not allocating the required 2,100 tickets (five per cent of the stadium’s capacity), then reducing the agreed 1,700 tickets to just 890. Such decisions contributed to the escalation of tensions.

“Due to the inability to authenticate and distribute tickets effectively, Legia Warsaw returned the tickets to the host club. We emphasise that none of the individuals detained by the police had tickets for the match. Therefore, we strongly object to Legia Warsaw being blamed for Thursday’s incidents in Birmingham.

“As a club, we are committed to upholding the highest standards in line with UEFA regulations. We expect reciprocal conduct from other club representatives. We remain prepared to present further evidence to UEFA regarding the actions of the British Police and Aston Villa FC.”

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in