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Sunday, December 14, 1997 Published at 11:38 GMT



Sport: Football

Wright fires back after Gunners' defeat
image: [ Highbury: fans booed Arsenal off the pitch ]
Highbury: fans booed Arsenal off the pitch

Arsenal striker Ian Wright has been spoken to by the police after his side's 3-1 defeat by Blackburn Rovers at Highbury.

Arsenal were booed off the pitch by supporters after the final whistle.


Blackburn Rovers fan Mark Whittaker explains what he saw ...
Fans filing out of the ground in north London were astounded to see Wright appear at a dressing-room window and harangue them in the street below.

Scotland Yard confirmed that a player was "spoken to" and reported for insulting behaviour, but said no arrest had been made.

Reporter Chris Birkett, of BBC News 24, was among the crowd who witnessed the scenes.

He said: "The Arsenal team had just been booed off after another pretty inept performance. A couple of people in the crowd had thrown their scarves back at the Arsenal team as they left the pitch.

"We were filing out of the ground back towards the tube station and our cars and as we were filing past the dressing rooms, which back onto the Avenell Road, Ian Wright suddenly appeared at the dressing room window and started what sounded to me like screaming abuse at the fans.


[ image: Arsenal's top scorer of all time - but a poor disciplinary record]
Arsenal's top scorer of all time - but a poor disciplinary record
"He was just dressed in his underwear, having just come off the pitch and taken his shirt off. He opened the window and just stood at the window screaming abuse at the fans.

"I happened to be standing next to a policeman at the time, who immediately got out his radio and said `Haul Ian Wright out of the dressing room. I want to talk to him now'.

"This was something I had never seen before. There have been protests there in years past, in the dark days of Terry Neill and Don Howe, but this is the first time I have seen the Arsenal players get involved," Birkett added.


[ image: Rovers fan Mark Whittaker]
Rovers fan Mark Whittaker
Blackburn Rovers supporter Mark Whittaker also saw the exchange. He said Wright was being baited and was "very, very annoyed."

A Highbury source has described it as a "minor incident."

Scotland Yard said: "A report will be compiled by Holloway police and after all the circumstances have been considered, it will be decided what further action, if any, is appropriate."

Poor disciplinary record

It was the latest in a string of disciplinary problems for the striker.

Wright was sent off once and booked 11 times last season and was convicted of misconduct by the FA after separate incidents in which he hurled abuse at fans at Coventry and at the referee against Blackburn Rovers.

The convictions led to a £15,000 fine and a suspended 12-match ban in July, when he was warned then that if he misbehaved again "the severest of penalties, removing him from the game for some considerable time, would be inevitable."

Wright publicly vowed to behave himself this season in a bid to rid himself of his bad-boy image and stake a claim on a place in the England squad for next year's World Cup in France.








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