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Sunderland to boot out thugs after Newcastle violence

17 Jan 2011 16:49:12

Sunderland to boot out thugs after Newcastle violence

Sunderland insist they will take the strongest possible action against the fans who caused the violent scenes that overshadowed Sunday's derby with Newcastle. Toon goalkeeper Steve Harper was shoved to the ground by a Sunderland fan who raced on to the pitch at the Stadium of Light during the 1-1 draw. The FA are also investigating the ugly clashes in the stands as police battled to calm supporters. Nasty: Sunderland and Newcastle fans square up in the stands at the Stadium of Light         HAVE YOUR SAY...     Do you fear a return to the dark days of football violence? The derby clashes at Sunderland and Birmingham offered further evidence that football is threatening to be dragged down by fans intent on causing trouble. Do you think that we are heading back to days we thought we had left behind? TELL US WHAT YOU THINK Sunderland said onMonday morning promising to take strong action against anyone found guilty of offences. A club statement said: 'The vast majority of fans in the 48,000 capacity crowd behaved very well and we thank them for their loyal support. 'Sunderland AFC operates a zero-tolerance policy towards anti-social behaviour of any kind within the Stadium of Light, and we are proud of our reputation as afamily club. 'Working closely with Northumbria Police, we will ensure that appropriate action is taken against anyone found to have been involved in any such behaviour at yesterday's game. 'The club also recognises the positive role Sunderland supporters played in helping to identify the small minority responsible for anti-social behaviour to stewards and the police.' FA will launch an investigation into the ugly scenes at Sunderland and Birmingham City which marred Sunday's derby matches. Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn offered an immediate apology to Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper after ayoung fan ran on and pushed him over following Asamoah Gyan's injury-time equaliser in the 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light.  A 17-year-old has been released on bail by Northumbria Police in connection with the incident. The FA are awaiting reports into the trouble which flared during and after the derby clash. The FA had a crowd control adviser present at the match and will consider his report and that of referee Howard Webb once they receive them. Trouble: a policewoman is crushed in the melee at the Stadium of Light An FA spokesman said: 'We are awaiting reports this morning and will be proceeding from there.' Northumbria Police confirmed they hadmade 24 arrests. It was also revealed officers had searched more than 100 fans arriving from Europe in the run-up to the match. At St Andrew's, a smoke bomb was set off in the Garrison Lane Stand and a pink flare in the away end housing 1,500 Aston Villa supporters. Only 22,000 attended the game - the lowest attendance for the fixture in Premier League history - after the capacity was reduced as a result of the disturbances between the two sets of fans at a Carling Cuptie last month.  The most worrying incident of the day saw Harper shoved in the back by a supporter who then disappeared back into the crowd. Ugly scenes: Birmingham's derby with Aston Villa was also interrupted by trouble in the stands Referee Howard Webb, a former South Yorkshire policeman, saw the incident and along with other Sunderland supporters ensured the fan did not escape. A miniature bottle was handed over by Webb to fourth official Michael Jones as the pitch invader was led away by police. Sunderland manager Steve Bruce said: 'We all love football up here but we don't need to see that. I would like to say thanks to the Sunderland fans who gave the kid up, because he is just a kid, which is a sad indictment of the youth of today. ' When you see the age of this kid, it's quite remarkable that he's got it in his mind to run on to the pitch when he could have been celebrating with50,000 people. I hope they ban him for a very long time.'  A tense occasion then saw an outbreak offighting between rival fans after the final whistle, with bottles and ripped-up seats thrown inside the stadium and Sunderland fans trying to get to the aluminium cages and barriers where the travelling Newcastle support was held outside.  Derby day shame! Violence erupts during matches between Sunderland and BirminghamSunderland 1 Newcastle 1: Gyan leaves it late to deny Magpies derby doubleBirmingham 1 Aston Villa 1: Collins makes a point to hand Houllier a lifelineWatch all the Premier League goals every week on our brilliant video player  Explore more:People: Steve Bruce, Niall Quinn Places: Newcastle, Birmingham, Europe


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