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Newcastle fans handed away game ban
Published : 21 Jul 2011 08:00:00
FOOTBALL fans reacted angrily last night after Newcastle United effectively banned non-season ticket holders from away games following ugly scenes at a pre-season friendly with Darlington. The club said non-season ticket holders and non-members would not be able to buy tickets for away games. The policy has been implemented with immediate effect following the shameful and unsavoury incidents that marred last Friday's friendly game at The Northern Echo Arena in Darlington. The Magpies also said the club will work with police to identify those responsible for the trouble and vowed to take further action against any fan involved. The Quakers are also helping police with the investigation and will follow Newcastle's lead in taking action against any guilty fans. However, Newcastle's new ticketing policy was criticised by fans for pricing them out of football and punishing innocent supporters. The tough response follows trouble at Darlington, when hundreds of fans ran on to the pitch after Sammy Ameobi scored a second goal and fights broke out. The game was delayed for ten minutes while both managers pleaded with fans to return to the stands. Afterwards three fans two men aged 21 and 22 from the Newcastle area, and a 17-yearold youth from Darlington were arrested and charged with pitch invasion and public order offences. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew and managing director Derek Llambias promised the club would take the strongest possible action. A club spokesman said yesterday they would not tolerate criminal or anti-social behaviour at home or away fixtures. They would seek to give guilty fans a club banning order and were acting on information provided by fans to help identify offenders in Darlington. He added: In order to combat any possible trouble at future away fixtures, a new policy will be implemented by the club which will see ticket sales restricted to season ticket holders and members only. As such, the buyer will be held accountable for any trouble associated with the purchase or use of a ticket. Newcastle United sincerely hopes that this incident is a one-off never to be repeated again and that as the 2011-12 season unfolds, the good name, fervour and loyalty of its fans will once again be to the fore, up and down the country. Previously, tickets went on sale to season ticket holders and members, before any unsold tickets went to other supporters. Steve Wraith, editor of Newcastle fanzine Toon Talk, said: This regime at the club needs to start communicating with supporters before they make these decisions. The fans have no representation and they need a voice. I think the decision is a complete over-reaction. What happened at Darlington was over-exuberance, youths getting excited. A spokesman for Darlington FC said the club was working with its counterparts at Durham Police and had handed them DVD evidence. The Quakers have also provided the FA with a dossier of evidence. Tony Taylor, of the Darlington FC Supporters Trust, said he supported action to ban offending fans, but described Newcastle's membership scheme as opportunism. He said: It seems to be an opportunity to make it more expensive for football fans, who will follow their clubs whatever. No further action has been planned for the forthcoming friendlies against Middlesbrough and Sunderland, although the club will maintain its planning with police.