• Premier League

Bernstein condemns Manchester derby troubles

ESPN staff
December 10, 2012

FA chairman David Bernstein has expressed his disappointment at the trouble involving fans during Sunday's Manchester derby between City and United at the Etihad Stadium and called for life bans for any of those involved who are caught.

The match, which was won 3-2 by Premier League leaders Manchester United, was marred by several incidents involving supporters in the crowd.

United striker Wayne Rooney was pelted by several missiles as he went to take corner kicks, while visiting defender Rio Ferdinand was struck just above his eye by an object thrown from the crowd as he celebrated Robin van Persie's goal, with one fan also running onto the pitch towards Ferdinand in the aftermath of that injury-time winner.

Greater Manchester Police have confirmed that nine people have been charged in connection with trouble at the derby, which ended with United pulling six points clear of City at the top of the table.

While the authorities are yet to identify and apprehend the person who left Ferdinand bleeding from the head - an incident that is now being investigated by the FA - nine other fans have been detained for a variety of reasons including a racially-aggravated public order offence and the breach of a football banning order.

On Monday morning, Bernstein condemned the actions of those involved and expressed his fears for the example it set.

"I think it's disturbing that we're seeing a recurrence of these types of incidents," he told Sky Sports News. "We've had racial abuse issues, the odd pitch incursion, things being thrown at players - it's very unacceptable and has to be dealt with severely.

"It's very disappointing: so much of football is so good, great things are happening in football as a whole, but these odd incidents get the headlines - and understandably because they are serious matters, they are unforgivable things.

"When you think of the millions watching football every week, or involved in football, to see it hijacked by these incidents is awful so we have to deal with it in the strongest way we can."

Bernstein added that the culprits should feel the full weight of the law and be prevented from ever attending matches again.

"It's a difficult social problem," he said. "I think there's a copycat thing: something happens and other people copy it and this sort of thing can spiral. To my mind it's for the FA, the whole game of football and the authorities to work together to deal with this most severe matter.

"I believe that if necessary these people need to go to the court and be banned for life, if they're found out."

In the corresponding fixture last season - a 1-0 home win back in April which was hugely significant in City pipping United to their first league title in 44 years on goal difference - 31 arrests were made.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.