Saturday 10 December 2016

Video: Angry Charlton fans halt Championship match with Brighton with beach ball protest

Simon Rice

Published 24/04/2016 | 11:54

A steward attempts to clear balloons thrown onto the pitch at kick-off during the Sky Bet Championship match between Charlton Athletic and Brighton and Hove Albion at The Valley yesterday
A steward attempts to clear balloons thrown onto the pitch at kick-off during the Sky Bet Championship match between Charlton Athletic and Brighton and Hove Albion at The Valley yesterday

Charlton fans staged a fresh protest yesterday, forcing their Championship game with Brighton to be halted after hundreds of beach balls and balloons were thrown onto the pitch.

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Fans of the London club are unhappy with owner Roland Duchatelet, who bought the club in 2014 and has overseen the club's relegation to League One this season.

Ahead of the match a protest march reportedly involving around 500 fans was staged. Among the chants were "We want our Charlton back" and "We want Roland out".

Moments after their match with promotion chasing Brighton began, home fans at The Valley threw beach balls and balloons onto the pitch, forcing the referee to halt the game while they were cleared.

Speaking after the match, which Brighton won 3-1, Charlton manager Jose Riga admitted the protests affected his players.

"When you see how we started, then you can say yes.

"This is not the first time we have faced this situation. We had the same game against Middlesbrough. We had to be very ready, we were not. The players of Brighton were ready but I don't want any excuse, we know the context.

"The players gave their all and competed. We had a good reaction in the second half and equalised."

He added: "Of course I'd prefer another atmosphere than this one.

"Communication will not be enough. It's about acting and showing some decisions now.

"I don't know the (whole) story. Charlton has a big past. The future can be a good future. I hope the right solution is found.

"That's what I hope for the club. We have to learn from our mistakes. It happens, relegation. We can build something. You see the story of Bournemouth. That is an inspiration for us and a lot of teams."

Sam Baldock opened the scoring for Brighton early on before Johann Gudmundsson hauled Charlton level six minutes into the second half.

Within minutes, Jiri Skalak restored the visitors' lead before Tomer Hemed's late penalty settled matters to ensure only goal difference is keeping Brighton out of the top two.

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