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Saturday, 27 April, 2002, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Airdrie match stopped by invasion
Airdrie fans smashed the goal
Police survey the damage done at Somerset Park
Airdrieonians fans forced their team's match away to Ayr United to be abandoned after invading the Somerset Park pitch.

One of the crossbars was broken during the unsavoury scenes.

And referee Bobby Orr told BBC Scotland that he was forced to call a halt to the Scottish First Division match because it could not be repaired and due to police advice.

Post-match threats of a protest against Ayr chairman Bill Barr turned to reality after the home side took the lead through Stewart Kean after 21 minutes.

I am gutted that the season has ended like this
Airdrie boss Ian McCall
About 50-60 Airdrie fans ran on to the pitch, forcing Orr to take the players back to the dressing-room as he feared for their safety.

There were five arrests for breach of the peace.

Barr's company is owed money by closure-threatened Airdrie for the building of their new stadium.

Airdrie fans have long seen him as the major stumbling block for efforts to save their club.

And they chose the final game of the season, at Ayr's Somerset Park, to hold a public protest.

The supporters' group, Diamonds Direct Action, had pre-planned the pitch invasion.

Airdrie manager Ian McCall said: "I was told all week there was going to be peaceful protests as that is always better.

"I understand their grievance if all things I am told are true, but I am gutted that the season has ended like this as we have had a magnificent season."

McCall pointed out that he and the players were no longer under contract to Airdrie after the end of the game, so there was little chance of the match being replayed.

However, he was confident that a buyer will be found in time for the 13 May deadline for saving the club imposed by liquidators KPMG.

McCall believes that negotiations with potential buyers of the club are proving "quite promising".

If a group of people are determined to move in a particular direction, it is difficult to stop them
League secretary Peter Donald
"Hopefully, we can get back to being a football club and a community football club," he said.

Scottish Football League secretary Peter Donald said: "I know from the brief conversations I have had there there were substantially more police present at Somerset Park than usual.

"But, if a group of people are determined to move in a particular direction, it is difficult to stop them."

Donald had been at Palmerston Park, Dumfries, along with 6000 others to watch Queen of the South receive the Second Division trophy.

"Events here have shown that there is life in community football around Scotland, but events at Somerset have put a dampener on the end of the season for me," he added.

The Scottish Football Association will decide what action to take over the pitch invasion, while the SFL will be responsible for deciding whether the game should be replayed.

Airdrie manager Ian McCall
"It's a disappointing way to end the season."
SFL secretary Peter Donald
"We will await the referee's report."
BBC Sport's Roddy Forsyth
rounds up Saturday's football
See also:

19 Apr 02 |  Airdrieonians
Month to save Airdrie
10 Apr 02 |  Scotland
Airdrie seeking new buyer
23 Mar 02 |  Airdrieonians
Airdrie future back in doubt
21 Mar 02 |  Airdrieonians
Entire team get community service
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