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Saturday, 12 January, 2002, 12:08 GMT
Key test for war on hooligans
Sam Hammam, scenes of club violence at Cardiff City logo
Cardiff City owner Sam Hammam is launching his war on hooliganism at the club's first game since the violent scenes at the FA Cup tie against Leeds United at Ninian Park.

But he insists that minder Neil MacNamara will be at his side at Saturday's Nationwide League game against Peterborough United despite revelations about his convictions for hooliganism.

We are announcing a war on hooliganism and we hope that other people in the football world, and particularly in Wales, will follow suit

Cardiff City chairman Sam Hammam
Mr Hammam himself has been ordered by the Football Association of Wales to remain in the Ninian Park directors' box following claims that his pitchside walkabouts may have incited Leeds United fans last Sunday.

Another six men have been charged with public order offences following the clashes which marred Cardiff City's FA Cup victory.

The charges on public order offences follow nine arrests made in dawn raids across south Wales on Friday.

Four men arrested on Sunday had already been charged.

South Wales Police said they were also expecting to make further arrests. Three people were released without charge following Friday's raids.

South Wales Police monitor
Officers have been sifting through hours of footage
The wave of arrests in Operation Base carried out by a team of 40 police officers came as the row continued over Sam Hammam's minder Neil MacNamara being a convicted soccer hooligan.

Mr MacNamara, who until recently was banned from every club in the country, is expected to appear at Hammam's side at Saturday's fixture with Peterborough.

Friday's dawn arrests were made after violent clashes during the FA Cup third round tie with Leeds United and crowd trouble at Cardiff's league match against Bristol City in December.

All six men charged - who are aged between 15 and 42 - have been bailed to appear before city magistrates at a later date.

Four other men have already been charged after being arrested during violence at Sunday's game.

Announcing his war on hooliganism on Friday, Mr Hammam added that he would make a public show of support for security guard Neil MacNamara claiming he was a "poacher-turned-gamekeeper".

Neil MacNamara and Sam Hammam
Neil MacNamara with Mr Hammam on Sunday
"We are not going to bow to these hooligans who want to put this family man out of a job," said Mr Hammam on Friday.

"If people have been completely rehabilitated as a civilised society dictates, they are welcome and are treated with respect," he said.

It is believed that Mr MacNamara is known to the National Criminal Intelligence Service's unit which deals with football hooliganism.

He was seen accompanying Mr Hammam during his controversial walk around the pitch in Cardiff's 2-1 victory over Leeds.

In March 2000, Mr MacNamara was arrested at an away match in Blackpool and admitted a charge of threatening and abusive behaviour when he appeared before Blackpool magistrates.

Cardiff City owner Sam Hammam gestures to the Ninian Park crowd
Hammam gestures to the crowd during a pitch walk
He was fined 100, with 60 costs, and the court also placed the 12-month ban.

But Mr Hammam has insisted he is committed to ridding the club of hooligan elements.

"On Saturday, we are announcing a war on hooliganism and we hope that other people in the football world, and particularly in Wales, will follow suit," he said.

"Cardiff should be a major Premier League club, but we cannot be there if hooligans are going to continue ruling."

Sam Hammam
"The most important thing is the image of the game"
City fan Tony Jeffries and journalist Joe Lovejoy
debate the hooligan issue
BBC Wales's Caroline Evans
"It has take a team of forty officers to trawl trhough the video footage"
See also:

11 Jan 02 | FA Cup
Hammam touchline walks banned
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