The Football Association (FA) will investigate the pitch invasion that preceded Manchester City’s Premier League title celebrations at the Etihad Stadium.
Thousands of supporters came down from the stands immediately after the 1-0 win over Chelsea, with players from both teams left running for the tunnel.
The pitch was eventually cleared for Manchester City captain Ilkay Gundogan to lift a third consecutive title for Pep Guardiola’s side but the earlier invasion is likely to bring an FA charge.
City were previously fined £260,000 and warned over their future conduct after similar scenes followed the dramatic final-day victory over Aston Villa last May.
The FA had attempted to clamp down on pitch invasions this season after joining forces with the Premier League, English Football League (EFL), Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) in March to launch a campaign – Love Football, Protect the Game – that warned of potential bans for supporters.
But the scenes that followed Manchester City’s win over Chelsea repeated the pitch invasions seen at Luton Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley, Stockport County and Carlisle United in the EFL play-offs over the last week.
“We strongly condemn the actions of anyone who enters the field of play without permission,” said an FA spokesperson. “This behaviour is unacceptable and puts the safety and welfare of players, coaches, club staff and fans at risk. We will be investigating the recent incidents of this, working with the clubs and the relevant authorities, to ensure the appropriate action is taken.”
Manchester City were one of six clubs fined by the FA due to pitch invasions last season, along with Everton, Bristol Rovers, Port Vale, Huddersfield and Nottingham Forest. The combined fines totalled £710,000 for breaches of rule E20.
There has yet to be a repeat of the violence witnessed last May, including one Nottingham Forest supporter attacking Sheffield United forward Billy Sharp at the City Ground, but the PFA remains concerned that players, staff and officials are not receiving adequate protection.
“After the high-profile incidents that happened last season there has been more of a concerted effort by leagues and authorities to address the risk to players that is caused by pitch invasions, something we’ve driven as the players’ union,” said a PFA spokesperson.
“While those efforts have been made, and warnings around the consequences of pitch invasions have been more visible, the fact remains that we are now seeing them happen as a matter of course at the end of fixtures like play-off semi-finals.
“Although we haven’t yet seen an incident as serious as those that happened last season, we have already been in contact with players who were involved in this year’s play-off games who were clear that they didn’t feel enough had been done and that their safety was being put at risk. That’s obviously a real concern.
“Nobody is pretending that ensuring the safety of fans, players and staff at games like this is an easy task, but it will be important to look at each of these incidents individually to see where things have to be done differently or more effectively.
“Ultimately, players, staff and officials all have a right to be safe and to feel safe, so it isn’t something that can just be dismissed as an issue that is too hard to fix.”
‘What happened was scandalous’ — the major concern about the rise in pitch invasions
(Photo: Getty Images)