…and comes to the conclusion, upon being schooled by Michael Corcoran (below) that punters were going batshit because they were bored.
OK, probably not. The Guardian’s Dominic Fifield and Owen Gibson sort it out.
The Football Association is to review the viability of early evening kick-off times following the violent scenes at Goodison Park on Saturday which saw missiles hurled at opposing players during Everton’s FA Cup fifth-round tie against Manchester United. After the game there were clashes between opposing fans which resulted in 33 arrests and left five police officers injured.
An investigation is under way to ascertain the identity of the fan who struck United’s goalkeeper Roy Carroll with a coin, with Merseyside police and Everton still scrutinising television footage of that and two other incidents where objects were flung on to the playing area. The FA has welcomed that inquiry as well as the jailing of a Burnley supporter, Michael Lewis, for five months for invading the pitch during his side’s tie with Blackburn.
The violent scenes at Goodison Park and Turf Moor – exacerbated by the injury sustained by the Rangers midfielder Fernando Ricksen after he was struck by a cigarette lighter thrown during Sunday’s Old Firm match at Celtic Park – saw the game’s governing body vow to act against the “mindless individuals” whose actions seriously tarnished the image of the game over the weekend.
That will see greater consideration taken before staging 5.30pm kick-offs for potentially volatile fixtures, such as Wayne Rooney’s highly emotive return to Everton on Saturday, given that supporters can spend the afternoon drinking in local pubs before attending such games.
The MP for Liverpool Walton, Peter Kilfoyle, yesterday accused the FA of “idiocy” and, alongside the BBC, of putting financial considerations ahead of common sense in staging the tie at that time.
“I’m concerned that the FA should come to a commercial arrangement without any regard for public safety,” he said. “I wonder whether there would be as much trouble if people did not have the opportunity to have too much to drink. It is unfair to scapegoat the police. It is unclear to me who actually takes the final decision – I can understand why the police wouldn’t want to be seen to be penalising the majority of decent football supporters because of a hooligan minority.”
The reason for screening the tie of the round in the evening is clear. The audience for the Goodison Park match peaked at 11m people, averaging 7.3m. Arsenal’s earlier clash with Sheffield United drew an average 3.8m, and Burnley’s tie at Sunday lunchtime 2.6m.
The game at Turf Moor saw three fans invade the pitch, with the FA encouraged by the jailing of Lewis (above) yesterday by Burnley magistrates. The jobless 42-year-old had already been banned for life by the club. Neil Smith, chief superintendent of Lancashire police, admitted there was little stewards could have done to prevent Lewis or the other two alleged offenders – also charged – running on.
Assuming Brentford can get past Southampton in their 5th Round FA Cup replay, the Bees will be rewarded with a visit by Manchester United to tiny Griffin Park. Full details of the quarter-final draw can be found here.