West Brom could face sanctions after crowd trouble mars Black Country derby

By Sports Desk January 28, 2024

West Brom face punishment after after crowd disorder and violent scenes marred Sunday’s FA Cup tie against rivals Wolves.

Play in the Black Country derby at The Hawthorns was suspended for more than half an hour after trouble flared in the stands and fans spilled onto the pitch.

West Midlands Police confirmed arrests were made following the second-half disturbances and one person was taken to hospital with head injuries.

There were reports of fans clashing with police and some West Brom players were concerned about family members sitting close to the trouble. At least one, Kyle Bartley, went into the crowd to get children out.

Baggies manager Carlos Corberan later confirmed no players’ family members were hurt but the violent unrest, into which the Football Association swiftly launched an investigation, completely overshadowed the contest.

Corberan said: “Unfortunately this happened but fortunately no dramatic situation with the families or with any person happened, because of course lives are more important than anything.

“Everything was controlled by the security people and the situation didn’t have any negative consequence on the families. But, of course, the players were worried because they knew that the families were there.”

The FA issued a strong statement on the trouble.

It read: “The disorder that occurred at the Black Country derby between West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers is completely unacceptable.

“Safety and security are of the utmost importance, and the behaviour of those involved is dangerous and inexcusable.

“We will be investigating these serious incidents alongside the clubs and the relevant authorities, and the appropriate action will be taken.”

Emotions had been running high throughout the match, which was the first between the neighbouring clubs in front of spectators since 2012.

The tensions spilled over shortly after Matheus Cunha fired Premier League Wolves into a 2-0 lead and effectively settled the fourth-round tie 12 minutes from time.

A statement from the home club read: “West Bromwich Albion Football Club condemns in the strongest terms the unsavoury scenes which disrupted Sunday’s Black Country derby at The Hawthorns.

“The club will work with West Midlands Police and the Football Association to fully investigate the incidents which resulted in a suspension to the game.

“Any individual involved in the disorder will be subject to a club ban, in addition to potential criminal investigation.”

The main disturbance occurred in the corner of the West Stand and the Birmingham Road End, a section which theoretically held only home supporters.

Police and stewards rushed to the area but security also had to be increased on the opposite side of the ground soon after as the atmosphere became increasingly hostile.

There had also been pockets of trouble elsewhere in the ground earlier in the game, which had been designated high risk with increased security and an 11.45am kick-off ordered.

Flares were thrown towards the pitch from the away end after Pedro Neto opened the scoring for the visitors and objects were later thrown at Wolves’ Tommy Doyle.

A police statement read: “We have extra officers at this local derby and they responded immediately as disorder in the stands caused fans to spill onto the pitch. Two people have been arrested for public order offences.

“We worked with officials to get the game restarted as soon as possible.

“Another man was arrested before the game for possession of an offensive weapon. A man has been taken to hospital with head injuries.”

The players eventually returned to play out the final 12 minutes after a stoppage of 34 minutes.

Bartley was substituted before the restart but Corberan said this was unrelated to what had occurred.

He said: “I had wanted to make the subs before they scored the second goal and Bartley had a yellow card.”

Wolves manager Gary O’Neil said: “Obviously it’s really disappointing. Anybody that wants to come to watch a football match should feel safe.

“Young children, elderly people could be in that area and we shouldn’t have to discuss incidents like this.

“They shouldn’t happen and I hope everyone’s safe and there’s no serious injuries and there’s no lasting effects to it.

“I thought the game was played in a really good spirit and it’s disappointing that things that went on off the pitch obviously now need to be spoken about.”

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