Arsene Wenger: English football does not have a hooligan problem

West Ham crowd trouble
West Ham should be forced to play behind closed doors if the violence that marred Wednesday's derby with Chelsea is repeated, says MP Mark Field

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger does not believe English football has a "hooligan problem" and has called for a return to safe standing at stadiums.

Crowd trouble marred West Ham's EFL Cup fourth-round home win over Chelsea on Wednesday.

Wenger, 67, was "surprised" at the disorder, as "in England we're not used to facing these problems any more".

"You cannot say 200 people is a general problem in the country," said Wenger, who has managed Arsenal since 1996.

"Hopefully West Ham will get rid of the problem very quickly. I am in favour of the resurgence of standing behind the goals and that is not a good advert to come back to standing."

Championship club Brighton are exploring the possibility of installing safe standing at the Amex Stadium, "if legislation allows".

English Football League clubs backed calls for the introduction of safe standing areas in 2014.

Scottish Premiership club Celtic installed 2,900 rail seats before the start of this season and Brighton chief executive Paul Barber has visited both Celtic Park and German Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund as Albion consider their options.

"I feel the closer you are to a position of a player the more passionate it is," said Wenger.

"It would enable you to have lower prices as you would have more spectators and maybe a more passionate atmosphere."

'Mindless thugs spoiled game'

Slaven Bilic
Bilic said West Ham were "totally against [violence] as a club after the match on Wednesday

Plastic bottles, seats and coins were thrown at London Stadium on Tuesday, as hundreds of supporters clashed and riot police entered the concourse.

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic said the club was "hurt" by the incidents - the latest of a series of problems since the move to their new stadium at the beginning of the season.

"The club didn't deserve it, the players don't deserve it definitely, the fans didn't deserve it," he said.

Hammers vice-chairwoman Karren Brady said the club would ban all fans involved in the violence. The club says it is finalising the identification of 200 individuals.

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew, who managed West Ham between 2003 and 2006, joined the criticism of the "mindless thugs".

"They are scenes that you don't want to see," he said. "The mindless thugs that spoiled that game are spoiling it for everybody over there, because they're all trying to settle into a new stadium."

"I think West Ham's move this morning was probably the right thing. Get rid of these people and let the genuine West Ham fans enjoy the game."

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