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Police gear up for bigger football crowd
Published : 23 Jul 2011 08:00:00
EXTRA police will be on duty for a pre-season football friendly today only a week after trouble marred another friendly at the same North-East ground. Police insist their increased presence at Darlington FC's home game against Middlesbrough is because of the size of the expected crowd and not because of any potential problems. The friendly kicks off at 3pm and is the first game at The Northern Echo Arena since hundreds of unruly fans spilled onto the pitch during the Quakers match against Newcastle United. Darlington officials estimate a much smaller attendance than the 9,721- strong crowd two thirds of whom were Newcastle fans eight days ago. The game against Newcastle was delayed for ten minutes when Sammy Ameobi's goal, which gave the Magpies a 2-0 lead, sparked a pitch invasion. Both managers pleaded with fans to return to the stands. Police made a number of arrests, fans were fighting on the pitch and there were allegations of stewards being attacked. Afterwards, three fans two men aged 21 and 22 from the Newcastle area, and a 17-year old from Darlington were arrested and charged with pitch invasion and public order offences. Discussions have been held between Durham Police and Darlington FC ahead of today's friendly and ahead of Wednesday's match against Sunderland to see if further action is required. A police spokeswoman said: There will be more of a police presence for the Middlesbrough game because of the numbers of people expected to attend, not because there has been any information to suggest there will be a disorder. Both Darlington and Newcastle United are working with Durham and Northumbria police forces to identify offenders. The police spokeswoman said the inquiry is expected to take a few more weeks. Darlington have sent the FA details of match planning as part of an exploratory fact-finding process to see if any official investigation is required. Tickets for today's game and Wednesday's against Sunderland are £10 for adults, and £5 for juniors and concessions.