Motherwell ‘breached rules’ during Rangers play-off clash

Motherwell players celebrate after maintaining the club's top flight status. Picture: Alan Watson

Motherwell players celebrate after maintaining the club's top flight status. Picture: Alan Watson

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MOTHERWELL have been found guilty of a number of rule breaches following a Scottish Professional Football League investigation into crowd issues during and after their play-off victory over Rangers at Fir Park.

But their potential punishment for the incidents on 31 May, 2015 will not be decided for 18 months.

The club will have to implement a range of recommendations in the intervening period, including identifying and acting against fans who invaded the pitch after the game, with their response dictating the possible sanctions.

The SPFL set up a commission chaired by solicitor Rory Bannerman to look into the post-match pitch invasion and other incidents, including a flare being thrown on to the pitch as Motherwell players celebrated the opening goal in their 3-0 second-leg win.

After several days of hearings last year, the commission found Motherwell guilty of several rule breaches relating to unacceptable conduct, including a “partial failure” in the implementation of ticket sales which “contributed” to Rangers fans getting tickets for the home end.

They were also found guilty over the ticket allocations, which the commission claimed led to more Rangers fans seeking and obtaining home tickets. Motherwell restricted Rangers to 1,500 tickets after getting less than half of the 2,000 tickets they requested for the first leg at Ibrox.

'Well fans salute the team after victory over Rangers. Picture: Alan Watson

'Well fans salute the team after victory over Rangers. Picture: Alan Watson

The flare issue also led to another charge. The commission pointed out that the culprit had not been identified and added: “This flare was dealt with inappropriately and in an unsafe manner by an employee of Motherwell FC who had not been adequately trained.”

The commission stated that “individual Motherwell supporters” entered the pitch during the match and found the stewarding arrangements “inadequate” given the history of pitch invasions on the final day of the season at Fir Park. The supporters “taunting and provoking” the Rangers fans further constituted unacceptable conduct.

The commission also found that the club had “yet to demonstrate sufficient action being taken by it to identify those of its supporters and others who engaged in unacceptable conduct at the match and has failed to demonstrate any action being taken against those supporters who have been so identified”.

Motherwell have been directed to follow five requirements before their sanction is determined, including providing a ticket policy within 28 days in which “safety and security” are priorities.

The flare was dealt with inappropriately and in an unsafe manner by an employee of Motherwell FC who had not been adequately trained

SPFL Commission

The Lanarkshire club must also produce a written report on compliance with unacceptable conduct rules and provide reports on steps taken to identify and act against those engaging in unacceptable 
conduct at the play-off.

They will also have to undertake staff training regarding health and safety plus crowd issues and undertake measures to prevent pitch invasions after the final home match of each season.

The SPFL statement finished: “At the end of the 18-month period the commission will make its final decision on sanction. It is reasonable to expect that one of the factors which the commission will take into account at that stage is compliance by Motherwell FC with the various matters which the commission has directed be actioned by Motherwell FC during that 18-month period.”

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