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Shameful scenes scar St Andrew's

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Phil McNulty | 08:57 UK time, Thursday, 2 December 2010

St Andrew's, Birmingham

Prince William, Prime Minister David Cameron and David Beckham were outlining the vision for England's future in Fifa's Zurich hotel at the very moment the game was being dragged back into the dark ages in Birmingham.

With desperate timing, as England's 2018 World Cup bid team were putting the finishing touches to their pitch ahead of what they hope will be a momentous day, a grim echo of the past was unfolding at the conclusion of the Carling Cup quarter-final between Birmingham City and Aston Villa at St Andrew's.

The high-powered team, lobbying late into the night to persuade Fifa's voters of England's merits as a country to which they can entrust the future of their showpiece, will have shuddered at the images that would have been flashed to Switzerland.

Images from a bygone age - or so we thought.

A mass pitch invasion, confrontational scenes, seats ripped out of stands and massed ranks of police standing between two sets of supporters.

If England's opponents in the race for 2018 needed one final piece of ammunition to use against them, the shameful events that unfolded in Birmingham provided it.

If there is scant consolation to be taken, in a World Cup context at least, from a thoroughly depressing conclusion to Birmingham's 2-1 win, then it is that it may have come just too late to have a defining impact on Fifa's deliberations.

polist595.jpgPolice hold back the fans. Photo: AFP

And, it should be noted, the 500 West Midlands Police on duty in and around St Andrew's - four times the normal number and a very visible presence - did a magnificent job in threatening and hostile circumstances to keep a lid on an explosive situation before restoring order.

The Football Association was also on the scene, with a crowd control advisor in St Andrew's able to make a swift assessment of what had taken place and a spokesman on hand to condemn the trouble, call for action and confirm a full investigation would be undertaken, starting on Thursday morning.

This will hopefully be noted as a sign of speed and efficiency in not just dealing with the immediate problem but also the aftermath.

Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish was quick to condemn the behaviour of hundreds of his team's supporters, who greeted Chris Foy's final whistle with a headlong dash across St Andrew's to taunt the disappointed Villa fans.

The climate surrounding this fixture is one of potential trouble but, in an age when crowd violence is mercifully rare in England, it was still a shock to witness this mindless throwback to the past.

McLeish said: "It was pretty horrible. It was from the dark ages."

No-one was about to argue with him.

For a few worrying minutes, there appeared serious potential for a major incidents to develop. Birmingham and Villa's players had barely heard the last whistle before they were having to dash off the pitch to escape the advancing, threatening mob.

Flares were thrown hazardously backwards and forwards between Birmingham supporters and their Villa counterparts, while damaged seats were piled up in the Gil Merrick Stand occupied by the visitors.

The pitch intruders came in all shapes and sizes, including one woman who raced on accompanied by her young family before realising this was not simply a scene of celebration but one of potential violence and unrest.

It was subdued relatively quickly, thanks to the prompt actions and courage of police and stewards, but the damage was done and those in and around Zurich who do not have England's best interests at heart may wish to make belated capital from it.

zig595.jpgZigic fires the winner to put Birmingham through to the Carling Cup semi-finals.Photo: Getty Images

Birmingham City will launch their own inquiry, in conjunction with the police and FA, but it is impossible to see how they can escape sanctions. Villa may also pay the price for damage done to the stadium by their supporters.

It was a miserable night, the sort of night we thought we had seen the last of and one that overshadowed Birmingham's achievement in reaching the Carling Cup semi-final and moving closer to only the second major trophy in their history.

There was sympathy for both managers. Sympathy for McLeish because the moment of triumph was scarred by their own supporters. Sympathy for his counterpart Gerard Houllier because he will feel Villa arguably deserved more from this game.

Villa looked the more composed side in possession but the lack of killer instinct betrayed them. Birmingham may have been on the back foot for long periods but they created the better openings.

Sebastian Larsson put them ahead from the spot and Nikola Zigic thought he had added second when Villa keeper Brad Friedel allowed his shot to squirm over the line. As Birmingham claimed the goal, they were frustrated by the linesman's flag, although not as frustrated as they were when Gabriel Agbonlahor equalised seconds later.

And then came the late twist. Zigic, who had looked out of his depth for long periods and was under fire from his own fans, made himself a hero with a bundled late finish as McLeish was pondering his removal from the action.

It should have been the catalyst for celebration for Birmingham. Instead, it was the signal for shame as those who broke on to the pitch sabotaged the game's reputation.

In the interests of balance, it should be stated that the vast majority of supporters were well behaved, while many Birmingham fans jeered their fellow supporters when they realised the damage they were causing to the image of their club and English football.

It is to be hoped this damage is limited by the work of the police and ground authorities as well as the prompt action of the FA and Birmingham in opening their inquiries.

What cannot be denied, however, is that this was a night English football did not need as it tries to present its acceptable face to the world in Zurich ahead of the 2018 vote.

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Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Well done those few Birmingham/Villa fans. You've let us all down with your stupidity. Slow hand clap for you. Shameful.

  • Comment number 2.

    Agree with above these Villa and Birmingham fans have let the country and the sport down. If we get the World Cup then Birmingham should not stage any maches because you just dont deserve it. Those stupid few could cost many a chance to watch the Wrold Cup on our soil! THANKS!

  • Comment number 3.

    The usual lines, "they weren't really football fans" and "it was only a small minority", just won't wash anymore. Be ashamed; all of you.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    These people give english football a bad name... Along with Rooney, A Cole, Terry, Gerrard etc

  • Comment number 6.

    Last year we had a semi final between united and city, rooney scored in the last minute to win it for united, there was no pitch invasion and the city fans didn't trash old trafford. What is wrong with brummies??

  • Comment number 7.

    What short memories the media have. This is not an isolated incident, trouble like this happens all over the country. Remember Millwall and West Ham??

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8300041.stm

    I am not defending the behaviour of both sets of 'fans' last night but lets get it into perspective. To blame the probable disappointment of
    not hosting the 2018 WC on last night is short sighted.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think this is the main reason why England has not hosted the World Cup in 1966. Or at least, this is the impression of outsiders of the English football...

  • Comment number 9.

    Absolutely shameful.

    We know how far back the rivalry goes but there's no need for such scenes.

    This is a set back that English Football doesn't want to suffer and especially at this time.

    Once again, the majority tarred by the actions of the few.

  • Comment number 10.

    Funny how everyone is a tough guy when with hundreds of their fellow idiots.

    What right do people think they have to invade the pitch, putting lives at danger. Sadly Birmingham fans feel they are able to do this as and when they feel.

    They have provided some of the most sickening things I have seen fans capable of over the last few years.

    Circa 1996 I remember Gary McAllister being hit by a pool ball when taking a corner at St Andrews. The fan who ran on in front of Peter Enckelman was an absolute disgrace and how the Fin remained in control was beyond me. Then we have last night, i'm sure there are others I have missed.

    An embarrasment to our so called 2nd city

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Quarter final

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    First of all,I'm in Scotland so no pointing the Villa/City fan finger. I believe City should be thrown out of the League Cup because correct me if I'm wrong,but wasn't it City fans who ran the length of the pitch to taunt/threaten Villa fans? Also,I was amazed how long it took for Villa fans to retaliate,so nobody can say they gave as much as they got. At best,I believe the score should be scrubbed and the game be replayed at Villa Park with NO away fans allowed.
    As far as timing with the World Cup bid result not even 24 hrs away,well done you complete Muppets for shaming yourselves and reminding the World what they were doing their best to forget you were capable of.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    Absolute disgrace. Any incidents like this should be met with severe punishments. I know the rivalry goes back a long way but there is no excuse.

    How about making Brum play their semi finals with no supporters?

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    To Joe Strummer - read post 7

  • Comment number 19.

    I have no sympathy for McLeish. He publicly called for the fans to create an 'intimidating atmosphere'. He got what he wanted; he got them riled and it went too far. http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/nov/30/alex-mcleish-birmingham-city-aston-villa-carling-cup

  • Comment number 20.

    Meh, it's not like there's never any crowd trouble in Russia or Spain is it? The timing does suck though...

  • Comment number 21.

    I watched last nights game with an emotional mixture of hope and abject terror until Zigic's bundled effort went over the line and exploded with pure joy. Unforutunately that didn't last long, it was replaced with a massive heap of shame as I watched a sizeable portion of our 'fans' drag the club's name through the dirt, yet again.

    For whatever reason we seem to have a disproportionate number of what can be termed as bad fans, who are fickle, hold very little knowledge of the game - the udercurrent of discontent of Bruce and now McLeish that runs through our fans despite the two of them being our most successful managers in modern history is typical of this - and are seemingly more interested in the opportunities the game will bring for trouble and mocking rights than the game itself. It is a serious problem, one I feel we've had for years and something we desperately need to address.

    However, I would argue some caution in how this is being portrayed elsewhere.

    Some of the journalism stemming from this game has been nothing short of disgusting, the most offensive being The Mirror's attempt to make a conection between the murder of a villa fan outside Villa Park after a Derby a few seasons back and problems between the two sets of fans. This despite the paper having covered the original story in depth and knowing the facts; it was nothing to do with the game. The Gutter Press, indeed.

    Also - while nobody wants to see anything like this happening - when compared to other examples of it's kind in recent memory, West Ham/Milwall last year when a fan got stabbed and the pitch was invaded multiple times during the match itself as the obvious one, the severity of the trouble wasn't that large. As has been said, that may in a large part be down to the incredible policing at St. Andrews last night, something Mark Bright seemed to miss (nothing new there then).

    I'd also argue caution with the howls of despair declaring this will effect our bid, Phil's right, it's scant consolation but it has happened too late in the day to have a serious effect. Not only that but when the other bidders compare their own hooligan record to ours I very much doubt it's something they'd want to highlight.

    In closing, while we need to do anything and everything we can not only to get rid of this at a national level but personally at club level too, and that unfortunately Birmingham City's name is dirt once more, a little reflection on what happened last night, how it was dealt with and the forceful statements coming from the club may indicate it wasn't as bad as first thought or feared.

    Still mind-numbingly brain-dead however.

  • Comment number 22.

    Won't make a blind bit of difference to the bid, that bed is already made, but shameful stuff anyway.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    The excuses seem to be coming out already for us not getting the world cup.
    Between Panorama, the Times and especially Birmingham City fans, I'm not convinced we deserve the WC.

  • Comment number 25.

    strange how Sky etc havent reported on this with the same hysteria they did on the Luton V York incident isnt it? when they totally blew everything totally out of proportion,dont want to damage the image of the Premiership perhaps? Will we see Shaun Turdis of the Sun saying that Birmingham should be hammered by The Fa as he wanted for Luton as well? Doubt it dont you?

  • Comment number 26.

    I'm a villa fan in Belfast, i wasn't surprised there was trouble, that's why all derbies over the last 5 years have been at noon at weekends, so that this doesn't happen, i was always fearful this might happen, as it would be a night game, especially if Birmingham won, it seems to mean so much more to them to win the derby, maybe as it doesn't happen so often.

  • Comment number 27.

    I suppose the BBC giving this incident so much pree before the verdict is really helping thought!

    This blog could have waited until after the verdict... Giving the incident so much coverage is helping FIFA to use this against us?

    Typical British press, printing negative articles and yet still, they are critical when we do fail, when it was them who put so much doubt on any success in the first place.

  • Comment number 28.

    1. It was a MINORITY - there were almost 30,000 people there and it was down to a few hundred idiots.
    2. Comments like "ban Birmimngham from hosting World cup matches as they don't deserve it" are a bit stupid... surely you could argue "ban ENGLAND from hosting World cup matches as they don't deserve it"... the fact is this had nothing to do with most Engish people or most people from Birmingham so that's not a fair comment.
    3. I was at the match supporting Birmingham & I agree that away fans should be banned from the next round, but it would be harsh to disqualify the the club from the Carling Cup.

  • Comment number 29.

    1. Hooliganism in footbal is 'Naughty Naughty'

    2. We can't afford to host the World Cup.

    3. Aston Villa are a below average team without Martin O'Neill.

  • Comment number 30.

    While the after match scenes last night weren't pleasant they are i'm afraid to say far more common than people like to admit and - by international omparion these days - considerably milder than what goes on regularily in places such as Italy, Spain and Russia.

    Not to excuse any mindless actions of course but I can already hear the inevitable scape-goating going on when we lose the bid to Russia which has considerably worse football violence than England does these days.

  • Comment number 31.

    @ spacedyemeerkat

    How can you blame everyone at the game?

  • Comment number 32.

    Not a supporter of either team so no concern either way on what happens to the clubs. The problem (Koosk45) with kicking clubs out of the cups is that it will lead to organised louts who don't want a particular club to progress doing the same just to get a result overturned.

    They should have kept all the 'supporters' on the pitch and charged them with affray and made them all pay for the damage - before banning them from all football grounds.

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    Why are all you guys surprised?

    Everyone outside of eng-gur-lund knew something like this would happen eventually, it is your "british bulldog" spirit is it not?????

    Lets get a decent country hosting the World Cup like Russia or Spain/Portugal.

    engurlund STILL has its fair share of moronic supporters.

  • Comment number 35.

    Despite hooliganism occurances reducing significantly over the last twenty years or so, when it happens now nothing is done about it.

    Birmingham City FC should be forced to play their semi final home leg behind closed doors - simple as that. Hit the clubs hard. Stop fining these clubs little (in comparison) amounts of money so that its just pushed under the carpet.

    HIT THE CLUBS HARD - MAKE THEM ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE THUGS

    So that decent honest folk can go to matches without being treated as a hooligan before anything has even happened!

  • Comment number 36.

    Shameful and Moronic. And despite what the media say, still something that happens far too often in Football and just one of the many reasons why I have just about lost all interest in watching it.

    And I don't want the world cup here as all we'll get is the International brands of hooliganism mixing in with the UK mindless masses smashing up the local areas around the grounds before and after games.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    Great article Phil and your point is well made.

    The actions of the Birmingham and Villa fans will not have helped Englan's cause in hosting the World Cup finals and our country's reputation as a bunch of thugs will again come to the fore.

    Any fan with half a brain would not fight at all, but to do it the day before the likes of Becks, Prince William and David Cameron present the appeal of hosting the World Cup finals here.

    They have all worked so hard to campaign for the England 2018 World Cup bid and now it is probably all going to be undone by a bunch of mindless yobs.

    Sure, the Villa and Birmingham fans showed they are passionate about football, but violence is not welcome in our game. If our fans can't control themselves in defeat then maybe having the World Cup elsewhere is not so bad afterall.

  • Comment number 39.

    Why do us English always insist on scoring own goals and looking at everything from a glass-half-empty point of view?! And why does the tabloid media always look for the worst in every situation and end up screaming soundbite headlines saying that it's in the "public interest"? Why should this impact on staging the World Cup as the Police & FA handled the situation impeccably? Why oh why do overzealous overexciteable kids ruin it for everyone else? Why are we turning into a nation of spoilt, aggressive, impatient brats? And what is a mother & family doing running onto the pitch anyway? Pitch invasions are dangerous, antagonistic to opposition supporters, and that's not even mentioning the fact that it's illegal.

  • Comment number 40.

    I think the main talking point now is what do the FA do to Birmingham. It might be harsh to kick them out, and would certainly hand an unfair advantage to West Ham (no sour grapes there I promise) but how else are the fans going to learn? Replaying the game at Villa Park with no away fans is another option but then Villa fans did their part too, yes the Birmingham fans were the ones who invaded the pitch, but that doesn't give Villa fans the right to retaliate. Maybe a replay behind closed doors, but again you could argue a replay of any kind would be harsh on Birmingham as they won the match fair and square. But the FA need to punish Birmingham in some form or another, maybe league matches behind closed doors. Personnally I think they should ban Birmingham from future League Cups, maybe a two or three seasons, to really show that hooligans have no place in any sport. As for the World Cup bid, I think by now most FIFA members know how they will vote and if England don't get it, it will be because of other reasons rather than one night of madness.

  • Comment number 41.

    I understand it was only a minority that was involved in the ugly scenes in Birmingham last night, but they couldn't have picked a worse day to expose the ugly side of football...unless those involved were part of a special group of fans who don't want the World Cup to be staged here.

  • Comment number 42.

    @johndon2000

    Not having Birmingham stage a World Cup match IF we win the bid is not an unfair comment, maybe harsh but not unfair. Both teams in this clash are Birmingham teams, as such they need to be punished. I think disq. them from the cup would also be harsh but I think the FA need to take a no tolerance to this sort of thing. The fans of clubs would soon know that this sort of action will have a massive effect on your club. The only problem is these sort of fans do not care about there team, club or sport. They just want to think they are tough!

  • Comment number 43.

    Point 34. @ lipstickgiraffe and all others saying Spain/Portugal because of one incident...

    The Spanish 'fans' attacking the TEAM coaches, not the fans, the players...thats a great place to have a world cup?!

    http://www.goal.com/en-gb/news/3277/la-liga/2010/11/29/2237349/real-madrid-team-bus-stoned-on-arrival-at-barcelona-hotel

    It was terrible last night, but it is a problem that does'nt only happen in England.

  • Comment number 44.

    **doesn't - obviously.

  • Comment number 45.

    absolute garbage blog McNulty, as Mcleish has already said the decision over the World cup is done and dusted, if you think last night changes it you're a clown. Everyone knows the World cup goes to who can give the biggest back handers.

    KRO

  • Comment number 46.

    I see there are a few idiots who think this adds something to football. If you want to fight, either join the army or take up a martial art.

    They need to set a harsh precedent. Birmingham play with no supporters in the semi. Both clubs should also be docked 3 points in the league. Perhaps this might stop the 'fans' running onto the pitch.

    Also play games earlier, so people have less time to get tanked up on booze.

  • Comment number 47.

    I'm sorry but this is just sensationalist nonsense. The fans that ran onto the pitch last night are idiots. Yeah the timings not great - but then if your prepared to run on the pitch, its hardly likely you'd think to yourself "Hmmm...actually I'll refrain from running on the pitch as it may sway a bunch of FIFA delegates with a penchant for brown envelopes not to choose England to host the World Cup"

    TJ - seeing as there were worse scenes between Millwall and West Ham presumably you also think London should not host any World Cup games either?

    As another poster from a Blues forum said should make an interesting Semi Final, the team that won the World Cup in '66 against the team that lost it in 2018...

  • Comment number 48.

    I am sure Birmingham City like all clubs do their best to restrain fans, but last nights events are beyond any clubs capability, unless we go back to penning fans in -which of course we won't do because of hillsborough and other similar tragic events.
    We do however have technology, I am sure with the TV cameras and any CCTV systems the club has, a fair number of those involved can be identified and charged with criminal behaviour, trespass, whatever!
    Yes it will take considerable police time, yes it will involve thousands of pounds of resources, manpower and other, for police and the courts ; however this should be added to the punishments handed out to those found guilty. Prison sentences for the worst offenders, large fines and costs, plus lifetime bans for the others.
    Yes these are draconian measures but they will work -those who ran onto the pitch at Birmingham, or who otherwise caused the riot should be made to pay heavily, if necessary carry the costs of their actions for the rest of their lives -its the only way! We have the technology, we have the resources, we have the laws - but do we lack the stomach for it?

  • Comment number 49.

    There needs to be a concerted effort from all other home fans this year to roundly boo the travelling Birmingham/ Villa fans. The rest of the Prem needs to shame these two bodies. Birmingham playing at your club this week? Why not get a shame-based chant going for the visiting fans. I realise the actual fans at your game may npt be the trouble makers of last night, but the Birmingham community should be sent a consensus message from the normal supporters of this land.

  • Comment number 50.

    Arrest all those fighting, take them to some other location and let the idiots beat each other to a pulp if that's what they want to do.

  • Comment number 51.

    The Millwall/West Ham vans did not do it right before the vote on who host the World Cup! It was still very wrong what they did and they should have been punished accordingly at the time but I can not remember how they were punished?

  • Comment number 52.

    34. At 10:27am on 02 Dec 2010, lipstickgiraffe wrote:

    Totally disagree with your comments on the situation. There is much more recent and more numerous examples of bad crowd behaviour in bot Spain and Russia. To say they deserve it more because of an isolated incident here is misguided at best.

    38. At 10:32am on 02 Dec 2010, olrion wrote:

    I think you'll find it was the winning supporters that invaded the pitch and then randomly fired flares into the away supporters stand. Naturally the away supporters having just seen their team defeated took exception to this behaviour and reacted to it.

    I always think that the problems with English supporters is blown out of proportion and not just in this country. There are very few things mentioned about Eastern European football in particular where the hooligan element of the fanbase is integrel to the club, in some cases threatening directors and players. These clubs have to pander to these supporters as often these are the ones that essentially create the revenue for the survival of the club. In several countries there are examples of the teams hooligan element being integrated into the club infrastructure (e.g. Holland where supporters have their own bars etc. at the ground and this is well known to all concerned that this is a meeting point for the hooligan element).

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 54.

    Oh come on, this will not effect the bid! Russian football has much worse hooliganism problems than us and the Spanish and Portuguese will probably taunt visiting African fans with monkey noises. All three countries have there own problems, at the end of the day I have to agree with POST 37.

    I'm totally indifferent to hosting the world cup, either way, win or lose, it wont be affecting my day.

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    I hope FIFA do realise that there it is big news in England when this happens as it does not happen often. Most people go to football games as they are fans of the sport and want to watch the football and have a good time. I think if you go to our main comp. in the bidding then they have more problems with the crowd etc than England has.

  • Comment number 57.

    Simon,

    the only thing the Villa fans did was retaliate and that was restricted as the Police had them Hemmed in the stands so any that were causing trouble were quickly dealt with.

  • Comment number 58.

    >> 6. At 09:55am on 02 Dec 2010, cityblueboy wrote:
    >>Last year we had a semi final between united and city, rooney scored in the >>last minute to win it for united, there was no pitch invasion and the city >>fans didn't trash old trafford. What is wrong with brummies??

    That's true and it's credit to the City fans especially when Bellamy was hit by an object thrown by a Man Utd "fan" during the game. Derbies are always high tension affairs because the numbers of fans tend to be higher because they are so close together. Villa Birmingham is one of a handful of fixtures that you can always pick out as potential trouble matches such as Cardiff Swansea, WEst Ham Millwall, Bristol City v Bristol Rovers etc. THese games usually are played at 12pm on a Sunday to stop drinking beforehand, but with the Carling Cup it's more difficult to fit the fixtures in and swapping the fixtures was impossible because Villa play Livepool next who play tonight in the UEFA cup. I think the police did a good job but I agree with Phil McNulty that the pitch invasion was originally a celebration with women and young children involved but it quickly degenerated as some fans decided to taunt the beaten Villa ones.
    As for how it will affect the World Cup bid it's worth noting the violence at BRazil derbies (who host the next world cup) and the rise in Polish football hooliganism (who co-host the next Euros) to realise it won't be a deciding factor. We have made tremendous progress in fighting hooliganism in this country through measures like SUnday kick offs and CCTVs in stadia. Yesterday was more shocking because it has become rarer which is credit to the police.

  • Comment number 59.

    Chris, apart from actually lighting the flares in the first place??

  • Comment number 60.

    Mindless brummy idiots. It's a midweek Carling Cup fixture for gods sake, get a hobby.

    It remains to be seen whether this harms the bid, I suppose we'll never know. It won't have done it any good put it that way.

    Fools.

  • Comment number 61.

    51.

    Punishment by being awarded the Olympic Stadium mate.

  • Comment number 62.

    @ #57

    Oh, the Villa fans only threw the Flare and ripped up and threw seats in retaliation, so that's alright then?

    No whitewash here, both sets of fans had a minority who acted like animals.

  • Comment number 63.

    TJ - so presumably you are saying that if Millwall/West Ham would have had a game scheduled for last night they would have refrained from trouble on the basis that it may have affect the World Cup bid?

    Blues likely will be punished, but talk of docking league points or playing the semi final with no fans is just hysterical nonsense

    I don't condone those that ran on the pitch, and think legal action against them would be fully justified....but equally this was no riot on the scale of what used to go on in the 70's or 80's, it was a bunch of simpletons who ran on the pitch thinking it was big to to goad Villa fans whilst safe in the knowledge that there were enough Police around that they wouldn't actually have to fight each other.

    A quick glance of YouTube will show that there are countless video clips of this sort of posturing from numerous "fans" from numerous clubs. The only real difference is that it happened in the ground in front of television cameras

  • Comment number 64.

    As a Villa supporter I felt shame after witnessing the scenes immediately after the game at St Andrew’s last night. Although indefensible and intense the altercation was short-lived and had no real ongoing repercussions. However, this morning I feel more upset about the overstated and divisive reporting from sections of the London media of the incident – especially the attempt to associate the World Cup 2018 bid with it.

    The guttural raspings of the red tops I sadly expect, and so ignore, but the BBC is a different matter. The BBC is a public service paid for by us all and as such we should expect journalism of a much higher standard. Phil McNulty; be ashamed.

  • Comment number 65.

    Birmingham's punishment must be swift and severe. For instance, all future cup games at home to be behind closed doors for the rest of the season and travel to away ties restricted to season ticket holders with a clean record. That's just for starters, I don't care who started it, it's the home club's fault.
    It was a disgrace! This is just what an ex-family friendly game doesn't need.
    Regards, etc.

  • Comment number 66.

    awful images from last night remind us, like west ham v millwall in the carling cup last year we get a few timely reminders that our game is far from perfect, far from respectful (a slight dig at those playing game as well as watching from the stands).

    BUT - despite the sporadic let-downs, and huge let-downs they are, i am proud to be a fan in england, of our game and of the progress we have made compared with the dark days of the '80s and the embarrassing euro 2000 tournament. now english football boasts one of the finest records in the world on crown control, attitudes to racism, crowd and spirit. that is something to be proud of

  • Comment number 67.

    So this kind of action is justified according to some because its a derby? Wow, guess its not just the footballers that seem to have lost touch with reality.

  • Comment number 68.

    @ #37 "I'm sorry if it's not politically correct for some of you, but that's the truth."

    The truth is subjective. Everybody has their own version of "the truth".

    Your version of it is not my version.

    Thats the real truth.

  • Comment number 69.

    *that should read 'crowd control, attitudes to racism, atmosphere and spirit'

  • Comment number 70.

    Ok, so they weren't great scenes the day before the world cup bid but this isn't the first time there has been a pitch invasion or scenes of violencein england, it's wrong to single this event out and call for the blood of Blues and Villa fans! West ham and Millwall for example, carling cup second round, pitch got invaded (whilst the match was still going on) and a guy got stabbed after... where was all this condemnation then? People love to hate brummies and if it wasn't for the world cup bid this would have blown over with nothing more than an investigation by the FA.

    Personally i think its a credit to the police who were controlling the scenes as it could have got out of hand if they had not separated the two in the way they did... if anything this has shown fifa that police can control situations such as these in and around football grounds and therefore ensure the safety of all that attend a fantastic world cup in England!!

  • Comment number 71.

    Lots of people are saying that while these people are wrong in doing what they did but the clubs shouldnt really be punished are a joke! If you don't punish them quickly and hard then it sends the message out to these sort of fans that they can get away with this sort of thing abd it will get worse. Knip it in the bud now!

  • Comment number 72.

    How ironic that the BBC have posted an article trying to blame someone for the potential failure of the bid on someone else!
    For information. It was the BBC who decided to broadcast old allegations against fifa officials 3 days before the vote!
    The Birmingham fans invaded the pitch as a celebration first, it was only when a (ONE) flare was thrown from a mindless villa fan that trouble erupted. ONE FLARE! a claret coloured flare! It was the villa fans who broke seats and threw them onto the pitch. IT WAS NOT a riot, it was mindless yes, but only a few had thoughts of violence. IF the police had actually policed the situation before end of game, instead of just filming the stands it would not have happened, 600 police used, and yet NOT one of them had lined up in front of Blues fans to discourage pitch invasion, that is all that was needed. PLUS the fact that stewards had not searched villa fans to stop the flare being brought into a stadium.
    So mountian out of mole hill. Typical BBC reporting, no facts, fact is that the BBC has acted against the bid, and should not try to shift the blame to a few mindless idiots.

  • Comment number 73.

    As an Englishman living in France I found myself reading with great interest the articles yesterday in relation to the fantastic level of support being provided by the PM, Royal family and David Beckham to our 2018 world cup bid. Today I re visited the BBC to check on progress and found myself with an unbelievable sinking feeling on reading about the events at St Andrews.

    I can only hope that those making decisions and FIFA can see past the mindless actions of those involved when making there decision later today but I fear our previous reputation is something that will never be forgotten.

    Will people never learn?

  • Comment number 74.

    To jellywobble...this is why I felt it was important to stress how superbly I thought West Midlands Police and stewards inside the ground handled this incident. It was a sobering experience watching their courage standing between the two sets of supporters - it is often too easy to take that for granted.

    I also made the point about the majority of fans behaving very well, but sadly there is no way we can ignore such a story, even with such delicate timing.

    Birmingham responded promptly, and it was also good to see the FA right on hand, with a crowd advisor at St. Andrew's and a spokesman dealing very well with the media to get the message out swiftly and clearly.

    Sadly, those who know this fixture better than me were fearful beforehand and were proved correct.

    I personally cannot see it having any decisive impact on England's 2018 World Cup bid, but it was certainly a timely reminder for all our authorities of the problems that can be caused by a mindless minority.

  • Comment number 75.

    Agreed the uneducated followers of both teams didn't cover themselves in glory last night, but why Phil weren't you so quick to do a piece on your so called well educated colleagues at Panorama who did the bid even more harm?

  • Comment number 76.

    Today I re visited the BBC to check on progress and found myself with an unbelievable sinking feeling on reading about the events at St Andrews.

    I can only hope that those making decisions and FIFA can see past the mindless actions of those involved when making there decision later today but I fear our previous reputation is something that will never be forgotten.

    -----------------------

    i think mcnulty pointed out, and i agree, that what happened last night won't be swaying anyone's vote. decisions have already been made either way and will not be changed because of this, while the undecided have the presentations to concentrated on rather than this one match at a (sorry birmingham fans, i'm not stating this as my opinion just 'received truth') notoriously troublesome ground.

    again i reiterate my pride in our current record on crowd trouble and in looking at that as part of the decision they would also be factoring in spain's and russia's far worse recent records

  • Comment number 77.

    Some people are over-reacting. You can't blame all fans last night, most of whom did nothing wrong. This won't have an impact on our bid. Football violence around the world is far worse. BBC even had an article on the violence in Brazil on this very website, proving this fact. The photos from St Andrews also show the toilets and seats etc smashed (and not by the home fans) showing both sets of fans had a minority of idiots.

    And before other fans start with their rants against Blues or Villa fans, every club has troublemakers (as said by Skitters #63). I have heard of several incidents of hooliganism this season from Wales, Scotland and England in all divisions. So let's not get too judgmental or self-righteous. For example, Plymouth Argyle's hooliganism the other week against Exeter was also bad. Plymouth is down to be a World Cup venue too.

    Football attracts violent people, but so do other things. We can't ban everything that causes violence, otherwise we should ban all alcohol immediately as that causes more violence and cost than anything else. It's what underlies the violence that needs to be challenged.

    Let's get beyond the hyperbole. If England don't get the World Cup, it won't be Blues or Villa fans to blame. It may be the BBC's Panorama can take more of the blame. But most likely, it'll be politics and wheeling and dealing behind the scenes that wins it for whichever country. I seriously hope we do get the World Cup, will be awesome if we do!!

  • Comment number 78.

    Phil McNulty writes, “I personally cannot see it having any decisive impact on England's 2018 World Cup bid...”

    So why did the opening dozen or so paragraphs of your blog centre almost exclusively on events in Zurich then?

  • Comment number 79.

    Do you know how many arrests there were last night? 5. Yes thats right 5. 500 police, huge costs and 5 arrests. Sparodic trouble afterwards. A 10 minute pitch invasion with seats being thrown and one flare thrown originally from the villa end, going to and fro for half a dozen times.

    Want to compare last night to West Ham Millwall?

    A man has been stabbed in the chest during "large-scale trouble" involving hundreds of fans at West Ham's Carling Cup match against Millwall.
    Fights broke out at 1800 BST and were still raging five hours later. A 44-year-old man is stable after being stabbed in Priory Road at 2025 BST.
    A Metropolitan Police spokesman said missiles had been thrown at officers but none were injured.
    Inside Upton Park stadium West Ham fans invaded the pitch three times.
    By 2300 BST several hundred West Ham fans had congregated outside the stadium chanting and bombarding police with crates and bottles.
    The first pitch invasion was after West Ham's equaliser, while the second more serious invasion happened after they scored a penalty.
    It took officials about six minutes to clear about 50 people from the pitch and police had to redeploy within the stadium to tackle the invasion.
    West Ham won the game 3-1 after extra time, upon which there was a third invasion by hundreds of fans.
    About 200 riot police and at least 20 mounted officers were at the ground and a police helicopter circled the area.
    The Press Association quoted an unnamed 19-year-old saying he saw a police officer being kicked on the ground.
    The police spokesman said: "There is large-scale trouble involving hundreds of fans which we are dealing with at the moment.
    About 50 fans invaded the pitch after West Ham equalised
    "Officers are now containing it but there is still disorder. Hundreds of fans are estimated to be involved."
    One pub reportedly had its windows broken by bricks during running battles across several streets up to half a mile from the stadium.
    Eyewitnesses told of hooligans trying to rip out bollards and lighting "small fires".
    Five arrests have been confirmed, including one for affray and one for breaching a banning order.
    BBC radio reporter Ben Jacobs, who was at the stadium, said: "The trouble broke out outside the Tube station about 600 yards from the ground.
    "There were [hundreds of] riot police and Millwall fans managed to break through the divide."
    'Really intimidating'
    Tony, a steward at the game, told BBC Radio 5 live they were powerless to stop the violence.
    He said: "When you have 2,900 Millwall fans it is really intimidating.
    "There is not a lot you can do - you have to hope the police presence can help you out."
    There were loads of people with bloodied faces
    Local shop owner
    A 29-year-old man had to close his kebab shop in nearby Green Street for two hours.
    He said: "All hell broke loose - it was very frightening.
    "Bottles and bricks were being thrown from the back and some were hitting West Ham fans at the front.
    "There were loads of people with bloodied faces."
    Aaron Smith, from Hemel Hempstead, who was at the game, said: "I saw one man cornered by at least a dozen Millwall fans before kick-off. Terrifying scenes."
    And a Millwall fan told the BBC: "It was like a war zone outside the stadium. There was fighting all round.


    And West Ham got fined 115,000. And some of you want Blues to be thrown out, replays, no away games...

    KRO......

  • Comment number 80.

    Idiots - however there is considerably more football related violence on the continent, let's keep some perspective. Oh, I forgot, the British media have no perspective.

  • Comment number 81.

    Just goes to show how small minded you Birmingham City fans are to say 'these things happem, its time to move along now' and 'Who cares about the world cup anyway. We aren't going to win it.

    The city is ours'.

    For me this isn't about the world cup bid, it's about moving into the 21st century and creating a family safe environment. I'd be petrified of taking my young family to a game in the future for fear of one of them being blinded or worse by a firework or flying seat or bottle, whether it be local rivals or not. It's a disgrace and to simply shrug your shoulders and say it's happened let's forget about it and move on is nothing short of idiocy. Both clubs should be penalised heavily, the next three league matches should be behind closed doors to penalise the club financially. This is all going to lead to the point where we wil have metal detectors at the grounds and people being searched. Absolute idiocy.

  • Comment number 82.

    @ 37

    I'm pretty sure that those who have lost loved ones would disagree with you. See Leeds in 2000. See Juventus in 1985. Many others

    These idiots think they belong to some club...they don't. They support a football team. There is no tribe. This is not a gang. Yes support your team, swear, sing and everything else if you need to. But the moment it becomes violent, especially organised violence it is no longer about football.

    The people who do this use football as their excuse to be violent, and be part of a gang of thugish idiots.

  • Comment number 83.



    1. Phil, it was a quarter final, not semi, as stated at the start of your blog?

    2. There were no such scenes or invasions at the recent derby at Villa - why? Better stewarding, more responsible home fan behaviour?

    3. I saw the game on TV with some Villa and Blues fans who were embarrassed by the pitch invasion and goading of the away fans. But you might note that the last "invasion" I have witnessed first hand at Villa Park was when a group Man United fans encroached onto the pitch after an equaliser in the recent drawn Premiership game. This is par for the course for away ManU fans yet it never gets commented on or even seen on TV highlights.

  • Comment number 84.

    Post 37
    Just so you know it's not a 'politically correct' or 'middle class' thing to not want to engage in mob warfare. It's called being evolved as civilised human beings.

  • Comment number 85.

    Do not allow any Birmingham fans into the semi-final away leg and/or play their home leg at a neutral venue.

    Can it be as simple as that? I think it is.

  • Comment number 86.

    that was a normal birmingham night wasn't it?! i joke of course

    it's shocking to see scenes like that in the modern game, but if this happened months ago it wouldn't be condemned as much (such as luton vs york or west ham vs millwall)if the wc bid wasn't today! it was simply mindless idiots being ***** which is seen all the time in football in this country and all other football playing countries!
    last nights scenes show what happens when a small club gets a big result!

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    Goes to show that the ticket pricing in the EPL is a good idea in order to price out the sorry excuses of human beings (a.k.a fanatics). Carling cup matches are cheaper to attend and because of the lack of importance, players and fans aren't expected to take it that seriously (e.g. Arsenal giving a chance to their (even) younger players). Unfortunately, some fans look for any excuse to showcase their tribalism traits. Don't they know we live in the 21st century!

  • Comment number 89.

    What happened last night was disgraceful, I'm not condoning it, but I would be very surprised if this had an effect on our 2018 world cup bid.

    Brazil got the 2014 World Cupand they have some of the worst hooliganism around, with rival firms even shooting each other before or after games.

    Poland are co-hosting the 2012 European Championships. They too, have one of the worst hooligan problems around with most of it having a connection to the Far-Right and Facism.

    The idea of Russia potentially using this to enhance their bid is at best laughable as they have a very bad problem also.

    If we dont get the bid as a result of this, it will confirm one thing to me - That FIFA is riddled with anti-English bile.

  • Comment number 90.

    Throw both clubs out of the competition and dock them league points. If you don't come down hard on this idiocy, there won't be a deterrent for anyone else not to do it. A meagre couple of thousand pound fine won't do anything.

  • Comment number 91.

    Could I please be advised which of my comments have broken the house rules please?

  • Comment number 92.

    This will have no affect whatsoever - the decision has already been made anyway.

    Last night was total handbags nothing more.

    In comparison to West Ham vs Millwall last season this was nothing.

    Get a grip

  • Comment number 93.

    How people can blame Villa fans equally with Blues fans ia a joke. Thousand, yes thousands of their fans ran to the away section taunting them after they had just lost to their fiercest rivals. Just imagine as an away supporter how frustrating that would be. I don't condone the behaviour of the Villa fans but if the Blues idiots hadnt invaded the pitch there wouldn't have been any trouble. About time Blues were severley punished and I hope the FA make an example of them should we not get the world cup. I don't care about the whole West Ham/Millwall argument, someone has to be made an example of and it's hardly like they have been innocent over the years. Would obviously love to see us re-instated but would settle for a points deduction or anything more than a fine they wont feel.

  • Comment number 94.

    @ #88

    So it's only the poor who are hooligans, eh?

    Get a grip.

  • Comment number 95.

    Phil
    I was at the match last night, standing in the Tilton End, watching Blues reach a semi-final after a battling display.
    As you rightly state, the vast majority of Blues fans, whilst vociferous in their barracking of the fancy dans from down the road, who have a more copious collection of honours and historically a more fashionable image, wanted to savour an overdue victory.
    The collection of nutters, kids, hangers-on and wannabees who 'stormed' the pitch owe their allegiances more to depressing social problems than Birmingham City FC. The majority of us would rather see them dispensed with.
    As a man with a family split between the two clubs, I stood with my nephew (a Villa fan) and watched in amazement as fans congregated on the running track by the main stand and Tilton, fully three or four minutes prior to the final whistle. I am sad to say club stewards just stood and watched.
    It was obvious to all of us in our block what was unfolding but, sad as it is to lay blame at the club's door, those entrusted with ground safety turned a blind eye.
    Luckily, and I don't say this lightly as I'm not always their biggest fan, the police were superb. They were proactive, strong and ruthlessly efficient in quelling any potential trouble.
    Whilst I feel the majority of fans on the pitch were there to jibe their rivals, there is still a small minority who organise and revel in organised violence. One cursory enquiry on You Tube can identify these Neanderthals quite easily, so why are the police not finding them and dealing with them?
    If I glorified violence of an extreme political or religious nature, I would very probably be hauled before the courts. So let's use the laws that exist to root out and punish these louts who are very easily found.
    Last night brought back chilling memories of visits to St Andrew's in the 80's. The present government's squeeze on those poorest and least well educated, with the inevitable social problems that will bring, seem to be echoing that dark period of our lives too.
    I'm a Birmingham fan but I believe the club needs to shoulder it's responsibility to protect the genuine fans at what is after all supposed to be an entertainment event. The police need the tools to work with them and we as genuine fans need, like we did last night, to show the thugs what we think of them.
    As for the World Cup bid, you cannot blame last night's trouble if we don't win. I would be more inclined to point the finger at the corrupt and self-serving officials who regard their own self-interest above that of the game. In addition, how can David Cameron be taken seriously when he dismissed what was in the Panorama programme on FIFA? Next time he lectures us on morals he should be referred back to his completely populist decision to ignore FIFA's corruption, in the hope of ingratiating himself with the very people who disgraced themselves and their respective clubs at St Andrew's last night.
    Also, as a point of order, it was widely reported that flares were thrown by Birmingham and Villa fans. I was there and there was one flare, thrown by a Villa 'fan' initially, and subsequently tossed back and forth between opposing fans.
    Good article Phil, let's hope it's one of the last you need to write on the topic of crowd disorder.

  • Comment number 96.

    In the words of Paul Hogan - It's just a few kids having fun. People really do go overboard with all this talk of morons etc. There's always been a bit of this around and there always will be. I think it's a complete irrelevance.

  • Comment number 97.

    Agree with comment 19 - Alex Mcleish is clearly guilty of incitement to me, his comments after the game are a joke saying we don't condone the fans behavior - what cobblers, when before the game Mcleish blatantly stoked the fire knowing that's what can happen

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/nov/30/alex-mcleish-birmingham-city-aston-villa-carling-cup

    Also cant see why people on here are people blaming Villa and their fans ? I didn't see em do anything and the Police and the Birmingham City stewards blatantly allowed the situation to get out of hand.

  • Comment number 98.

    England should not host the world cup, we cant handle such an event, this is prove of that. The average english football fan is a thug, who dosnt like anyone different to them (Birmingham fans hating Villa fans, they are from the same city, imagine someone from a different county/culture!), three posh (well two) guys in nice suits and eton educations do not at all represent football in England! Holland & Belgium should get it, they will welcome the world and not be violent if/when they lose or get knocket out (something which happened in England during the Euros if i remember correctly?!)

  • Comment number 99.

    I'm a neutral (Everton fan) who took my young lads to this game as we live locally. I have no allegiance to either club or supporters. We did NOT go on the pitch at the end. I say it as I see it and what I saw at the end of the game were celebrating, micky taking Blues fans on the pitch moving towards the Villa fans in the Railway end. I also saw a strong line of riot police across the whole of the railway end behind which were the Villa fans, angry Villa fans, some of whom were absolute animals when they started ripping the seats out hurling them down onto the police and throwingt a flare down aswell. Pretty disgusting behaviour i'd say.

    If you punish one, then you have to punish both clubs in EQUAL measure.

  • Comment number 100.

    Well done to the minority of fans from both sides who have dragged the City of Birmingham through the mud, nice going.

 

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