Football FanCast guest columnist Paul Rodgers feels that West Ham are right to contest the charges brought against them.
Reports this morning that West Ham are contesting the charges brought against them in relation to the crowd disturbances against Millwall, will be seen as a strange move by many given the shameful scenes that we all bare witness too; however I applaud the decision of the Hammers to fight their corner, I mean how the hell can they be held accountable for the actions of a minority intent on causing mayhem.
It really is a case of guilty by association and why I am not naive to realise that there were some genuine West Ham supporters who got caught up in it and stupidly felt the need to follow others onto the pitch, I just question how many of the others were so genuine and who had bought a ticket with the simple intention to cause mayhem. I mean those events are hardly a regular occurrence at West Ham now is it.
I am not a West Ham fan myself, therefore have little bias towards it and its outcome, but how can a football club be held accountable for the actions of its supporters. If people are intent to cause trouble, shout out vile and crass remarks, or throw missiles of sort, then how could West Ham have prevented it? It hardly would have paid for them to abandon the match and send supporters out to the chaotic scenes that were happening away from the ground
I accept after the incident they can trawl through CCTV footage, pick out the guilty parties and make sure they are banned and reprimanded to the letter of the law, but what could have they have done at the time to prevent this, especially given that the majority of police, who would have been able to assist the stewards in identifying those guilty and those intent on causing trouble, were stationed outside the stadium trying to contain the fighting and rioting around the streets of the ground? The club were extremely helpless to this situation, especially given that the main focus of the club's protection within the ground was being deployed outside.
So the main argument then is how any football club can contain supporter's intent on causing trouble at that moment in time. If it was one or two then fine, but this was hundreds and that is why the club can only look to address all the guilty parties after the event and take action. The authorities need to assess the situation that was taking place at Upton Park and wonder what any other club would have done differently, to solve the problems facing the staff and stewards on that particular night.
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