Dark Blues Ages
Lets be honest, despite the unnecessary scaremongering and moral panic caused by the media towards Villa supporters’ celebrations in this season’s FA Cup quarter-final at Villa Park, in terms of menace, they had nothing on the scenes at St Andrews in the League Cup quarter-final back in 2011.
It was the Blues boss at the time, Alex McLeish, that labelled the scenes between Blues and Villa fans as a return to the ‘dark ages’, a term that BBC writer Phil McNulty stole when describing scenes at Villa Park four years later.
There was a distinct air of menace that night when Birmingham fans came onto the pitch to confront and goad Villa fans behind the goal after their 2-1 victory. A flare was thrown at Villa supporters (then tossed back and forth), seats were ripped up and thrown. and the stand-off between the two sets of fans, separated by a line of police and stewards, was way beyond anything that happened at Villa Park.
Birmingham City were fined £20,000 for that pitch invasion at the League Cup tie, which puts Villa
supporters celebrations in context. If you believed the press hoo-ha about Villa fans running on the pitch, you’d be fearful of the FA throwing the book at Villa and billing them with a six-figure fine. But when you remember that the far more sinister events at Small Heath equated to a £20,000 slapped wrist, it certainly lessens any concerns, providing the FA are consistent.
Likewise the recent disturbances at White Hart Lane during Tottenham’s match with Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League, which saw three pitch invasions (seemingly sponsored by a headphone company), which caused the match to be suspended for around 10 minutes, resulted in Spurs being fined £11,870 by Uefa.
Aston Villa FA Fine Estimate
At a guess, you’d think due to the poor management of stewards on the initial pitch invasion at Villa Park, Villa’s fine would perhaps be between these two aforementioned examples.
Everything is down to context and this is something the FA rightly consider. Despite passions high due to the local derby and the FA endorsed late kick-off time encouraging more drinking, it was still largely “celebratory” and our visitors (both fans and players) had a big part to play in any malice, which was only minor.
As a Football Supporters’ Federation spokesperson has commented before on such matters: “Pitch invasions are illegal so fans would be advised not to get involved – you could end up with a three-year banning order and a criminal record.
“But the FA is right in saying that pitch invasions have to be viewed in context. There’s a clear difference between fans entering the field of play to goad rival supporters in a heated fixtures as opposed to end of season “celebratory” affairs. Club rivalries and the importance of a game to either set of fans can change the dynamics considerably.
With arrests considerably down across the board in the Premier League and football as a whole, we are a long way from returning to the ‘dark ages’ as the media hysterics tried to suggest .
Lets hope the FA is sensible and sees it for what it is, draws a line through it pronto, so they can then focus on entertaining Villa supporters when we arrive at the national stadium in a few weeks. UTV