Page last updated at 18:02 GMT, Saturday, 13 February 2010

Violent clashes after Southampton and Portsmouth FA tie


Fans and police officers clashed near the ground

Football fans and police have clashed in Southampton after the city's football club lost 4-1 to bitter rivals Portsmouth in an FA Cup tie.

Bricks, bottles and chairs were thrown by fans outside St Mary's stadium in violent scenes, with 11 arrests.

More than 250 officers, including mounted police, were on duty.

Previous games between the clubs have also seen clashes. Over 90 arrests were made at Fratton Park in 2004 and five at the last meeting in 2005.

I'm not belittling anybody who got hurt or perhaps had a car damaged, but in terms of the scale of what happened... I think it was a really good operation
Ch Supt Matthew Greening

More than 4,000 Portsmouth fans were expected at Saturday's game and officers escorted them between the stadium and railway station, where special trains were laid on.

The route took in one of the city's main shopping streets, containing tens of thousands of shoppers.

Officers were also involved in breaking up skirmishes across the city. Some fans suffered injuries such as bloodied noses.

In a bid to stem disorder, city pubs shut for two hours after the game.

A special metal security barrier was also brought in to help keep fans apart close to the ground.

Two Portsmouth fans were arrested before the game after fireworks were thrown in the city centre.

Police preparations for the derby match were under way for weeks beforehand.

Ch Supt Matthew Greening told BBC News he thought the operation went well, and that the majority of fans had behaved themselves.

'Ugly at times'

"It was always going to be a high-energy afternoon," he said.

"We know we have really strong rivalry between the clubs and the fans.

"I'm really disappointed that some fans were irresponsible, and in Britannia Road caused some quite ugly scenes.

"But actually, it was just one of the things that we planned for, one of the opportunities that could have happened.

"It did, we responded, we dealt with it and whilst it was ugly at times, we do accept that, actually, the level of injuries that were caused and the level of damage that was caused was relatively minor."

He added: "I'm not belittling anybody who got hurt or perhaps had a car damaged, but in terms of the scale of what happened and the way some people were talking before the game, I think it was a really good operation."

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