Terry Pierce - Millwall crowd trouble highlights FA incompetence

14 March 2011 11:39
On Thursday afternoon Millwall escaped punishment from the FA for the trouble that marred the Lions' home match with Middlesbrough last month. They escaped punishment. No fine, not even a warning. The only action the FA are to take is to monitor the remaining matches at the The Den this season.

How can the FA discourage such behaviour when they are so weak when dealing with incidents such as this? Before we go on, I recognise that any fan disorder is caused by a very small minority.

It should also be noted that Millwall as a club has made huge strides towards creating a safe environment for fans to watch football without losing the feeling and atmosphere that makes The Den a fantastic place to watch football more often than not. But as Millwall have progressed on the pitch over the last few years, their crowds have increased which, unfortunately, has seen the number of incidents involving fan disorder also increase.

When Boro visited last month, the disorder was so severe that the referee considered abandoning the fixture. Visiting keeper Jason Steele was targeted with missiles thrown from the home crowd, and so was an assistant referee.

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Isolated incidents happen up and down the country and always will when passion, football and beer mix with big away followings. And, if you read my work regularly, you will know I am vehemently opposed to the sterilisation of our game. However this was not an isolated incident, but more the latest in a worrying rise in cases involving so-called fans of the London club.

Just last week Watford fans sat in the club's family area next to the away fans reported being on the receiving end of a barrage of coins and bottles. And when the Hornets made the short trip south in the return fixture earlier on this season Lloyd Doyley was confronted by a Millwall fan who had entered the field of play.

When it comes to disciplining clubs for the behaviour of their fans, it's a real area of debate even before one starts to consider the legal consequences of any punishment. Is it right to fine clubs or deduct points, therefore massively punishing the clubs but not really the fans? Or do we start forcing clubs to play a game behind closed doors as a punishment, thus inflicting a huge penalty on all fans because of the actions of so few?

At the moment there is no right or wrong way. Millwall are doing everything they can to reduce incidents involving their fans, so it's hard to vouch for a severe punishment against the club.

But the most pertinent point is that the incidents are becoming less rare - or just more reported - across the pyramid and if, for example, Millwall faced severe consequences it may force the few perpetrators to think before they throw a handful coppers at a linesman in the future.

Source: DSG

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