Wiltshire | Archive | 2006 | January | 17

Town set to pay price for crowd trouble

From the Swindon Advertiser, first published Tuesday 17th Jan 2006.

TOWN could find themselves having to pay a heavy price for the trouble which flared at Gillingham when it comes to planning for the return match next month.

A quirk of the fixture computer means Iffy Onuora's men will entertain the Kent outfit at the County Ground on Tuesday February 14.

Trouble flared before and after the match with Kent Police making seven arrests for public order and minor assault offences.

Deputy chairman Mark Devlin, who was at the Priestfield Ground on Saturday, has said that the violence which followed the match is almost certain to see the Valentine's Day clash re-categorised after discussions with the police.

That means extra security and policing arrangements and that means extra costs for the club.

The exact increase is unclear but it is certainly an expense the cash-strapped club could do without.

Devlin said: "As it stands, there are four different categories of match. The first is all but police free and then you have A, B and C with A being the lightest presence necessary.

"I have spoken to Swindon's football liaison officer who told me what had happened on Saturday.

"Given the level of disturbance at Saturday's game then I'm pretty certain there will be discussions with the police and that the game will be re-categorised.

"That obviously means a bigger police presence and of course a bigger cost to the club."

PC James Neighbour, Swindon Police football liaison officer is already on record as saying Saturday's violence was one of the worst incidents he had seen in five years in the job.

Video footage is currently being studied to see if any action can be taken against those involved in the violence.

Although the two clubs are poles apart geographically, the hostility between the fans stems back as far as the 1970s when a tunnel fracas ended up in court while a play-off clash in 1987 saw Town edge out the Gills in a replay and secure promotion to the old Second Division.

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