West Ham calls ‘emergency meeting’ after protests and pitch invasions
PUBLISHED: 11:43 12 March 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
West Ham football club has called an “emergency meeting” after Saturday’s clash at the London Stadium descended into protests and pitch invasions.
The Football Association “strongly condemns” the crowd disturbance at the Hammers’ defeat to Burley and will be “seeking observations” from the home team and referee’s match report, the governing body said.
The Premier League fixture that was supposed to commemorate 25 years since Bobby Moore’s death, complete with a floral tribute, saw about 200 angry fans gather in front of the directors’ box to vent their fury at board members.
In a statement, the club said it was “committed to taking decisive and appropriate action” into the chaos clouding the second half.
Plans to hold a protest march against the club’s board through Stratford were called off last week after a meeting between supporters’ groups and vice-chair Karren Brady.
The truce proved fragile. Frustration at the struggling club, which currently hovers above the relegation zone despite a new stadium and promises of taking on Europe’s biggest clubs, was summed up by one banner: “Sold a dream, given a nightmare”.
Tensions boiled over when a strong first half performance gave way to a 66th-minute goal by Burnley’s Ashley Barnes, then two by visiting forward Chris Wood.
Police counted four separate pitch invasions by individual home fans during the second half.
One spectator charged onto the turf and waved a corner flag in the middle of the centre-circle, a scene recalling how fans toppling the notorious Bond Scheme in 1992.
Some fans threw coins, one striking co-owner David Sullivan according to former manager Sir Trevor Brooking.
While Sir Trevor remained in the box surrounded by empty seats belonging to directors, Mr Sullivan and co-owner David Gold left the stadium amid chants of “sack the board”.
Burnley substitutes even let children onto their bench to escape unrest in the stands.
Officers are investigating two allegations of assault, said a spokeswoman for Met Police.
No arrests have been made and both players and supporters left the stadium “without incident” following the game, she added.
West Ham were defeated three nil.