Hundreds of football fans have been accused of causing trouble before one of the Premier League’s most controversial matches of the season even kicked off.
Newcastle United fans disrupted amateur matches being played near the away end of Wigan Athletic’s DW Stadium by running on the pitches, dropping their trousers, ripping out the nets and trying to break the goals by hanging on the crossbars, a local official said.
Fans later boasted about the trouble they caused – including stealing a £65 match ball – on social networking sites.
The Premier League game on Sunday was won 2-1 by the home side, but the result has been overshadowed by the fall-out from a tackle on Newcastle’s Massaido Haidara by Callum McManaman.
The young Frenchman was stretchered off after the Wigan striker’s challenge, which has been widely condemned but will not be punished by the FA.
Before the match, 250-300 Newcastle fans caused chaos after they got off coaches and wandered across to watch Wigan Cosmos play AFC Leigh Centurions in the South Lancashire Counties League, a Cosmos spokesman said.
“As the supporters spilled out of the coaches, which were not managed by the club or police officials, they proceeded to watch the game from the touchline,” the official said.
“Some fans then chose to run on to the field of play, dropping their pants, causing the game to be stopped.
“The situation then magnified as a crowd of around 250-300 Newcastle United fans followed suit.
“Although good-natured at first, the fans then started to rip out corner flags as they ran over the pitches and also took the match ball.
“We never recovered the ball, though we did manage to recover the corner flags.
“The so-called fans then decided to charge over to the adjacent pitch where Goose Green Reserves were entertaining Olympic AFC in another South Lancashire Counties fixture.
“They again began by ripping out their corner flags.”
He said the fans jumped on to the goalposts in an attempt to snap the crossbar. They then started to rip the nets from the posts.
Cosmos put the cost of replacing the ball and the damaged nets at £200 – a tiny amount for a Premier League side but a lot of money for an amateur non-profit side, the spokesman said.
Newcastle fans from the True Faith fanzine are organising a whip-round for the clubs affected and have condemned the vandalism.