Birmingham face big fine
Birmingham City will be asked by the FA to prove that they did everything possible to prevent the violence which cast a shadow over their Carling Cup quarter-final win over Aston Villa on Wednesday night, writes Sandy Macaskill.
Club and police sources last night defended the security measures, but the Blues are expected to be handed a six-figure fine.
The FA will write to the club this week to request their observations on the chaos which met the final whistle, when more than 1,000 City fans invaded the pitch and launched a flare into away fans in the stand. The FA's own crowd control advisors, who were present at the game, will also submit their own report before the FA take further action.
The matter is unlikely to be resolved before the two sides meet at St Andrew's in the Premier League on January 16, but it is thought the punishment will be similar to that handed to West Ham, who were fined £115,000 following numerous Upton Park pitch invasions during their Cup tie with Millwall last season.
The FA will now seek to discover whether adequate precautions were taken by the club to prevent the disorder which, described as "like a war-zone" by one witness, left 14 people, including four police officers, requiring hospital treatment. Two police dogs were also hurt by missiles, with damage to a pub and a number of parked cars near the stadium as hostilities spilled out into the nearby area.
The police made an informal suggestion to Carling Cup organisers that a new date be found for the tie, with fears expressed that violence would not reflect well on the English game on the eve of Fifa's vote on the destination of the 2018 World Cup.
Aggression between the two clubs' fans has escalated in recent years and after clashes during the 2002-03 season, police insisted all future derbies be played on a Sunday lunchtime.
But the police are now confident of arresting those responsible by studying CCTV footage and interviewing witnesses. They have already made eight arrests. (© Daily Telegraph, London)