Pitch Invasions at Gillingham and Coventry Raise Security Questions
By IBTimes Staff Reporter | February 7, 2013 1:27 AM EST
Coventry City and Gillingham have suffered incidents of pitch invasion this past week, with both instances involving fan-player altercations.
Kent police have confirmed a 17-year-old Gillingham fan has been charged with common assault after an incident involving Wycombe Wanderers goalkeeper Jordan Archer.
The teenager raced on to the pitch during Gillingham's League Two clash with Wycombe and pushed over Archer as he was placing the ball for a goal kick. The player responded angrily but stewards rushed to remove the invader from the field.
"Some people give the rest of the Gillingham fans a bad name," Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth told Sky Sports. "I don't want to comment too much, but everyone is okay in there."
Wycombe were leading 1-0 in the fixture prior to the 93rd minute incident. The offender has been freed on bail and would appear in court on March 12th.
The incident was followed by another case of pitch invasion during Coventry's Johnstone's Paint Trophy clash with Crewe Alexandra on Tuesday.
A shirtless fan was kicked by Coventry's Cyrus Christie in an attempt to cut short his jog around the pitch. The fan confronted the player before being ushered away by stewards.
Coventry found themselves 3-0 down at home to Crewe, with the incident capping a frustrating evening for the Sky Blues. Much to the chagrin of Coventry manager Mark Robins, Christie was shown a yellow card for the trip.
"I just don't understand the logic of booking Cyrus," Robins said afterwards. "He stopped him and there was nothing in it. It was so the stewards could move him."
West Midlands Police have confirmed the perpetrator has been arrested and are investigating whether charges will follow.
The incidents follow the infamous attack on Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland last October. With only a few months separating all three instances, it appears as though pitch invasion is a growing problem for lower league football.
The reasons for confrontations could range from inadequate security at grounds to fan indiscipline to the proximity of fans and players at English grounds. Although the actual causes are unclear, it is evident that these external disruptions to football matches need to be halted in order to protect players and improve the image of English football fans.
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