The worrying increase crowd violence continued during Manchester United’s 2-0 Carling Cup victory at Oakwell last night. South Yorkshire Police, who arrested four United supporters, today released details of last night’s incidents. The police held two for public order offences, one for theft and another for throwing a missile on the pitch.
Three Barnsley fans ran onto the pitch during the match. Two supporters confronted Ben Foster, the recalled United goalkeeper, as he took a goal kick in the second half.
During the violence, where supporters raided shelves and tills, eight Barnsley catering staff locked themselves in a cupboard seeking protection, police claimed. Jan Framp, area manager for Lindley Catering, said the attack happened after police told catering staff not to sell alcohol at half-time.
“That’s what upset them,” said Framp.
“They kicked the doors in and then ransacked the beer bar. They have ripped the water boilers off the counters, they have trashed everything.”
The FA, who will liaise with both clubs and the police to gather evidence, said that there is no place for anti-social or violent behavior in football.
“Any culprit found to be involved in these disturbances and identified as such by either the police or clubs should be subject to a lengthy ban from attending football matches,” said a spokesperson.
While the violence was disturbing, more troubling still was the pitch invasion by Barnsley supporters that placed players’ safety in jeopardy.
The FA surely must take action – and quickly – before English football witnesses an attack on a player ahead of a 2018 World Cup bid.
United is already under UEFA investigation after a fan invaded the pitch during the club’s Champions League tie with Wolfsburg at Old Trafford last month.