Increased police numbers at games will prevent pitch invasions

DANNY MURPHY: Fans invading the pitch takes away the enjoyment for the players… football MUST use its budget to increase police at high-risk games to ensure it doesn’t become a common issue

  • There have been several pitch invasions at English football grounds recently 
  • One pitch invasion was at Goodison Park after Everton beat Crystal Palace
  • On that occasion, Patrick Vieira was confronted by a fan and he kicked out
  • Fans coming on the pitch makes players anxious and kills their enjoyment
  • Police numbers need to be increased at high-risk games to stop pitch invasions 

Quite apart from the dangers created by pitch invasions if they turn ugly, having fans on the pitch at the end of matches – even joyous ones – kills some of the pleasure the players will feel in winning a big game.

When I think back to my best moments in football, beating Arsenal in the FA Cup final or winning the UEFA Cup, I have wonderful memories of standing on the pitch with my team-mates in front of thousands of supporters, all singing You’ll Never Walk Alone together.

I would have been deprived of those moments if the fans were all on the pitch. It would be intimidating, there would be anxiety until you got to a safe haven, and I am sure the players today feel the same if they are honest.

Pitch invasions have been a regular occurrence at football grounds in England recently

Patrick Vieira was goaded by a supporter at Goodison Park on Thursday night

Billy Sharp was head-butted by a fan at Nottingham Forest two days earlier

Players’ parents, wives and children will know what happened to Billy Sharp being attacked by a Nottingham Forest fan and they will be worried.

Footballers have big egos and think they can handle most things but a bit of fear will creep in if you are up against dozens of people, most of whom might be boisterous and harmless, but you don’t know for sure.

The game we love creates anger and euphoria but we can’t have it spill over into a situation where pitch invasions are commonplace. It is against the rules, it is against the law.

Players might have to accept that getting verbal abuse from the stands and terraces is an unfortunate part of the job but putting yourself in physical danger from supporters is not in the job description, and neither should it be.

Police got involved at Goodison Park, but having more on hand could stop pitch invasions 

The authorities have to be proactive and increase the number of police inside stadiums for the high-risk games. I would hope there have been conversations between all authorities regarding matches at Burnley, Brentford, Manchester City and Liverpool where there is so much at stake, and that security is beefed up.

Nobody could have been surprised at what happened at Everton on Thursday night yet nothing seemed to be in place to stop it and Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira was left having an altercation with one of the thousands of intruders on the pitch.

It is hard for stewards to deal with physical trouble but police can and there is enough money in football to budget for that.

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