Thursday, October 27, 2005
Chelsea and West Ham guilty after extended FA inquiry
(Cut n Paste from The Times Online, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,277-1843318,00.html)
EVEN by the snail-paced standards of Soho Square, a year seems like a long time to wait for the outcome of a disrepute charge, but almost 12 months after their combustible Carling Cup tie, the FA yesterday found Chelsea and West Ham United guilty of failing to control their supporters.
The FA has succeeded in streamlining some elements of its disciplinary process in recent years, but speed has not been of the essence in this case.
West Ham's visit to Stamford Bridge on October 27 last year was marred by violence, with Mateja Kezman, Chelsea's goalscorer in their 1-0 win, being struck on the head by a missile and visiting supporters fighting with police in riot gear for 15 minutes after the final whistle, leading to both clubs being charged. Chelsea and West Ham denied the charges and requested personal hearings.
The FA says the delay was caused by their desire to deal with a case involving Millwall first, which sprang from the club's Carling Cup tie against Liverpool the previous evening. Last month, Millwall finally won their appeal against a £25,000 fine imposed by the FA for failing to ensure their spectators "refrained from racist and/or abusive behaviour".
Yesterday's ruling is not the end of the matter. The hearing was adjourned to hear pleas of mitigation from the clubs before the commission determines the punishment to be imposed. Both clubs can expect to be fined.
An FA statement said: "Charges against Chelsea and West Ham United for the behaviour of their supporters have been found to be proved. The two clubs were charged with failing to ensure that spectators, and/or persons purporting to be its supporters or followers, conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and refrained from threatening and/or violent and/or provocative behaviour."
Chelsea are expected to appeal, arguing that they acted with due diligence to prevent violence and that subsequent events were beyond their control, as well as pointing out that there has been no trouble at their ground in the past year.