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Increase police numbers at high-risk games to stop pitch invasions from happening

DANNY MURPHY: Fans invading the pitch take the fun out of players…football SHOULD use its budget to increase policing at high-stakes games to ensure it doesn’t become a common problem

  • There have been several pitch invasions on English football pitches recently
  • A pitch invasion was at Goodison Park after Everton beat Crystal Palace
  • On that occasion, Patrick Vieira was confronted by a fan and kicked out
  • Fans entering the field make players anxious and kill their enjoyment.
  • It is necessary to increase the number of police in high-stakes games to stop field invasions

Aside from the dangers created by pitch invasions if they turn ugly, having fans on the pitch at the end of matches, even happy ones, kills some of the pleasure players will take from winning a big game.

When I look back on my greatest moments in football, beating Arsenal in the FA Cup final or winning the UEFA Cup, I have wonderful memories of being on the pitch with my teammates in front of thousands of fans, all singing. You’ll never walk alone together.

I would have deprived myself of those moments if all the fans were on the pitch. It would be intimidating, there would be anxiety until you get to a safe haven, and I’m sure gamers today feel the same way if they’re honest.

Pitch invasions have been a regular occurrence on England's football pitches recently.

Pitch invasions have been a regular occurrence on England’s football pitches recently.

Patrick Vieira was egged on by a supporter at Goodison Park on Thursday night.

Patrick Vieira was egged on by a supporter at Goodison Park on Thursday night.

Billy Sharp was headbutted by a fan at Nottingham Forest two days earlier

Billy Sharp was headbutted by a fan at Nottingham Forest two days earlier

The parents, wives and children of the players will know what happened to Billy Sharp when he was attacked by a Nottingham Forest fan and they will be worried.

Footballers have big egos and think they can handle most things, but a little fear will creep in if you’re up against dozens of people, most of whom may be boisterous and harmless, but you’re not sure.

The game we love generates anger and euphoria, but we can’t let it spill over into a situation where pitch invasions are commonplace. It’s against the rules, it’s against the law.

Players may have to accept that receiving verbal abuse from the stands and terraces is an unfortunate part of the job, but putting yourself in physical danger from fans is not in the job description, and neither should it be.

Police got involved at Goodison Park, but having more on hand could stop pitch invasions

Police got involved at Goodison Park, but having more on hand could stop pitch invasions

The authorities have to be proactive and increase the number of police inside the stadiums for high-risk games. I hope there have been discussions between all the authorities regarding the matches at Burnley, Brentford, Manchester City and Liverpool, where the stakes are high, and that security will be tightened.

Nobody could have been surprised by what happened at Everton on Thursday night, but nothing seemed ready to stop him and Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira got into an altercation with one of the thousands of intruders on the pitch.

It’s hard for stewards to deal with physical problems, but the police can and there’s enough money in football to budget for that.

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