Police try to stop brawling Millwall fans at Wembley
Police are to review the 5.15pm start time of Wembley FA Cup semi-finals after Millwall thugs shamed football on Saturday, writes Darren Lewis.
They have also requested TV footage of the fighting from broadcaster ESPN as they step up their hunt for the perpetrators.
But it is the tea-time kick-off time which has left many observers convinced it gave fans intent on causing trouble the opportunity to drink all day.
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The decision on kick-off times is taken jointly between police, the FA and TV companies.
Police chiefs put back a probe into Saturday’s shameful events at Wembley until after yesterday’s second semi-final between Chelsea and Manchester City.
That game went off without serious problems but 27 arrests for crowd trouble at the Tyne-Wear derby between Newcastle and Sunderland highlighted a belief that football violence is on the increase.
Police will review all strategy connected with Saturday’s game and the FA are conducting their own enquiries.
If drunkenness is found by police to be a factor in most of the arrests then it could lead to the later kick-off time being scrapped.
Questions have already been asked about why stewards stood back and watched the punch-ups that broke out during the second half of Millwall’s 2-0 defeat by Wigan.
But it has emerged the stewards had been instructed to stay back for their own safety once public order offences had been committed.
The Metropolitan Police have backed that response, maintaining there is a clear distinction between their own work and that of the stewards.
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