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Hammers and Lions to lodge clash defences

West Ham and Millwall are prepared to mount a vigorous defence as they get ready for the start of a three-day FA disciplinary hearing today into the violence that marred their Carling Cup clash in August.

The Hammers are facing four charges and Millwall three, with both clubs having been charged with failing to prevent racist behaviour by their fans.

The sides could be forced to play games behind closed doors and may face heavy fines if found guilty after the violent clashes led to 64 arrests and the stabbing of a Millwall fan near West Ham's Upton Park ground.

At the time, Millwall expressed their disbelief of the charges in a statement, which read: "We maintain that we did everything in our power with regard to our ticketing arrangements for this game. Furthermore, we expressed our concerns in advance about ticket allocations and arrangements.

"It was acknowledged that none of our supporters came on to the pitch, and indeed the behaviour and forbearance of our fans brought praise from media observers on the night.

"Our question for the FA is 'what can Millwall do to control individual actions once inside our opponents' stadium?'"

A West Ham spokesman had said: "In advance of the Millwall match, the club followed the strict advice of the police and relevant authorities at every stage of the planning process.

"That full co-operation continued on the night with the club working closely with police on a carefully set-out plan that was initiated and approved by the independent safety group."

Each club faces charges of racist abuse being perpetrated by their supporters, failing to ensure their fans refrained from violent, threatening, obscene and provocative behaviour, and a failure to ensure the fans did not throw missiles.

West Ham face a further charge of failing to ensure their supporters did not enter the field of play.