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PFA Calls for Protective Netting in Stadiums


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Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, has called for protective netting to be introduced at stadiums behind the goals, corner flags and dugouts to prevent a "copycat" trend of objects being thrown on to pitches.

Greater Manchester police have charged nine people in connection with the trouble that flared during the Manchester derby on Sunday when Rio Ferdinand was struck by a two-pence coin above his left eye while celebrating Robin van Persie's late winning goal for United.

A number of stadiums in the Bundesliga and other European leagues already have safety nets in place to protect the players and Taylor believes the incident involving Ferdinand is a stark warning that their safety is under threat.

He said: "It could have been a career-threatening injury if it had caught Rio's eye. There are certain areas that are more vulnerable than others – at corners, behind the goals and behind the dugout where substitutions are made. It's an option to consider. You wonder if there is a copycat reaction and that's obviously not good for players or referees.

"It's the job of the PFA to safeguard the players. If we ignore this problem we ignore it at our peril. It's trying to keep a check on a pattern. People may think there are sufficient sanctions in place but if that had been a bad injury to Rio I don't think anything could have condoned that.

"You wouldn't want anything to restrict the view and of course we aren't talking about fences, after Hillsborough. You've got to look at technology and see if there can be a way of protection without restricting the view. Safety of players and safety of fans is key."

Cardiff's former Manchester City forward Craig Bellamy was targeted by Manchester United supporters who threw bottles and coins when the sides met in the Carling Cup in 2010, while a mobile phone was launched on to the pitch by a Liverpool supporter after Wayne Rooney scored during a game at Anfield in 2005.

The Football Association, which condemned Sunday's ugly scenes as "unacceptable", and the Metropolitan Police launched separate investigations into how a Chelsea steward was hospitalised after Manchester United's victory at Stamford Bridge in October. Objects thrown included a seat, apparently aimed at Javier Hernández.

However, during the 2011-12 season the number of football-related arrests across all competitions in England and Wales fell by 24% to 2,363. Arrests made for missiles thrown on to the pitch totalled 53 for 2011‑12, down from 64 the previous year, with 16 made in the Premier League during 2011-12, a decrease of four.

Kevin Parker, a spokesman for the Manchester City Supporters Club, said: "In 40 years of watching football it's the first time I've seen that sort of thing happen at City. I don't think the introduction of netting is the right way forward for football. I've watched games in Europe with netting and it makes you as a supporter feel like a second-class citizen. It's not ideal and from a safety point of view I don't think it's ideal, for instance if fans needed to make a quick exit onto the field.

"None of us condone what happened at City on Sunday, but we should wait for Manchester City, the police and the Football Association to have a look at what happened and how it can be prevented."

Malcolm Clarke, the chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation, added: "Netting is not something we feel is necessary. No one condones the throwing of missiles but arrests last season were 24% down on previous seasons and not many social phenomenon alter that much."

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Football hasn't really changed - there's a bandwagon growing where the game and supporters are being demonised this season - there have always been isolated incidents and this year isn't any different, it's just that the media have realised it sells papers so they're all over it. I've got to say I can't remember the last time I felt really unsafe in a ground.

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Great so a small minority of idiots have cause the FA to consider 'nets'.

How about we allow a group of fans to beat the shit out of a pitch invader? That might provide an incentive not to invade and would sure prevent the need for nets.

Seriously though, would netting have stopped that coin hitting Ferdinand? Nope. Given there's a small amount of pitch invasions in this league it sound like a massive overreaction and a waste of money.

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The PFA, by the very nature of their existence are going to call for this. It doesnt mean they are going to get it or if they do get it that it will happen overnight. I cant see the Premier League wanting to bring it in yet, but this is a very public warning to fans to start behaving a bit better. Supporter behaviour has regressed massively in this country over the past couple of seasons.

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Well, they seem to be able to put up netting (and remove it) prety quickly at various grounds around the country during warm ups before kick off, so it wouldn't be too hard to implement at least. Just at the worst offending grounds/matches though, please

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think its sad for fans of this happens but this has been a trend in last few weeks. I think was Rooney got hit with a few things in theMan Utd vs Chelsea game a few weeks and was happening a lot in Merseyside derby.

only takes a few idiots to ruin it for everybody else

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What we need are computerised defence systems that can lock on to a coin in flight, and shoot it down using small guided anti-missile missiles.

Excellent idea. I also think that there should compulsory national service as stewards and that they should prepare for a ground assault.

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Just a point on this. Quite a salient point though I feel. Neither the PFA nor any other governing body have 'called for netting' to be introduced at all. They actually said it is a solution to be looked at. Something to be contemplated.

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