The hefty Pompey cost for a moment’s thrill

The Pompey players and fans celebrate Gary Robert's opener against Ipswich on Tuesday night Picture: Joe Pepler
The Pompey players and fans celebrate Gary Robert's opener against Ipswich on Tuesday night Picture: Joe Pepler
Gareth Evans sporting the captain's armband at Havant earlier this month. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘Honoured’ Evans speaks of his Pompey pride

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The morning after the party, there were numerous Fratton Park headaches.

Paul Cook’s side had eliminated Ipswich Town from the FA Cup on a glorious evening under the floodlights’ glare.

Gary Roberts and Marc McNulty had helped inflict a memorable Cup upset upon an opposition currently residing in seventh spot in the Championship.

Yet, subsequently, reality has since created a very ugly aftermath.

That evening a 14-year-old boy emerged from the South stand lower, displaying his belly in the biting January air in a pitch invasion which has inflicted an almighty hangover on the Blues.

The youngster’s second-half entrance was largely greeted by boos and jeers from supporters, particularly the Fratton end.

The reaction from the Football Association is likely to be far more damning.

Especially considering it is the ninth reported incident involving Pompey this season alone.

Tyler Smith’s high-profile intervention against York in November was the previous pitch intrusion, earning him a two-and-a-half year club ban.

The Fratton-ender has since apologised and there is an online petition to return his season ticket and lift the suspension, presently attracting 972 signatories.

Other reported incidents during the campaign to have been brought to the FA’s attention include two more pitch invasions, two cases of racism, two instances of smoke bombs and an instance of coin throwing.

It total they represent incidents at nine of Pompey’s 32 games so far.

The frequency has left Mark Catlin fearing Pompey could now be fined up to £10,000.

Smith’s actions sparked similar concerns, the Blues escaping further punishment on that occasion.

Tuesday night’s culprit staged his one-man show only 57 days after his predecessor took Scott Flinders’ goal-kick having being incensed by the keeper’s time-wasting.

And Pompey’s chief executive believes this time the club may not be so fortunate.

Catlin said: ‘The thing which upsets me personally, more than anything else, is 99.9 per cent of Pompey fans are the most sensible, passionate and loyal fans in the country.

‘It is a very, very small minority who tarnish the club’s name and reputation. That is the frustration.

‘On the whole there is very little you can do if a lone person wants to run onto the pitch. However, we’ve put in very robust defences with the relevant authorities to demonstrate we do not take these things lightly.

‘Any pitch encroachment is a serious offence which needs to be treated as such. As a club, you have to send out a strong message.

‘The FA were happy with how we dealt with previous situations.

‘Obviously, they are not happy with people repeatedly entering the pitch at our matches, however.

‘You are always liable for a punishment when a supporter of your club or a supporter of any club at your stadium commits an act that breaches FA regulations. Whether that be a smoke bomb, a pitch invasion, fighting or anything else.

‘As long as it has been reported by the referee then you run the risk of being fined. This latest case is a pitch invasion, which historically can be up to £10,000.

‘That level of fine could happen to us this time, who knows, we are at the mercy of the football authorities.

‘But once again we will do everything to show that both in the preparation and, subsequently, the punishment we have treated this as a serious incident.

‘We are a fan-owned club, people have put their hard-earned money into the club and we don’t want it spent on fines which are unnecessary.

‘A big concern is this is the ninth reported incident against Pompey this season – and we are only halfway through the campaign.

‘We have been reported to the FA for four pitch invasions and the discharging of two smoke canisters.

‘There have even been cases of racism reported, including the incident against Reading.

‘Unfortunately, Tuesday was no isolated incident. However, we cannot allow the actions of such a small minority to tarnish the reputation of the overwhelming majority of passionate, loyal Pompey fans.’

According to section E20 (b) in the FA’s Rules and Regulations: ‘Each affiliated association, competition and club shall be responsible for ensuring....that no spectators or unauthorised persons are permitted to encroach onto the pitch area, save for reasons of crowd safety’.

In addition, E21 states: ‘Any affiliated association, competition or club which fails effectively to discharge its said responsibility in any respect whatsoever shall be guilty of misconduct’.

Aside from the York and Ipswich instances, fans encroached on to the Fratton pitch against Derby (August 12) and Macclesfield (November 7). The latter was a Macclesfield supporter from the Milton end.

Smoke bombs were let off in the away ends at Northampton (December 19) and Ipswich (January 9).

Cases of racism at Fratton were reported against Reading (August 25) and Barnet (September 12).

Finally, there was a coin-throwing incident at Cambridge United (October 10).

An FA spokesperson added: ‘The FA are aware and liaising with the club, including seeking their observations in relation to the incident.

‘Should anyone be found to have committed a disorder offence, such as entering the field of play without permission, that is a matter for the police, the club(s) concerned and the relevant authorities.

‘The FA would support the appropriate level of action being taken, which may include a football banning, for any individual found guilty of disorder.’

Police can seek a conviction through the courts for pitch invaders. If successful, it would warrant a criminal record and potentially a life-time ban from attending football matches.

Hefty prices for a moment’s thrill.