Published On: Thu, Dec 7th, 2017

Police apologise to Brighton, Crystal Palace after suggesting weapons found

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Sussex Police are backpedaling after suggesting that weapons were found at a Premier League game.

On Thursday, Sussex Police apologised to Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace for publishing a report that incorrectly referred to weapons being found discarded at the Amex Stadium.

“The reference to weapons being found discarded at the stadium following the Brighton v Crystal Palace match on November 28 was based on information logged by our officers on the night and done so in good faith,” Sussex Police said.

“Subsequently, it has been established that no such items were physically recovered at the stadium or in the city. We accept that this information was incorrect and the tweet published earlier today (December 7) by one of our officers was wrong.

“Sussex Police apologises to both clubs and their police.”

Published the day after Brighton and Palace played out a scoreless draw in the Premier League, the report said “a significant number of people attempted to enter the ground with pyrotechnics, knives, and knuckledusters” which were found while trying to gain access through fire exit doors in the south stand. The game was described by Simon Nelson, the chief inspector who led the policing operation for the game, as “a return to the dark days of football.”

In the report, Nelson declared: “I have been involved in football policing at all levels and have been a match commander for Albion matches for 12 years, but I have never come across such concerted attempts to cause disorder and engage in violent behaviour.”

Six arrests were made at the game, while two stewards were hospitalised.

Five Year Plan, a Palace fanzine, submitted a Freedom of Information request to Sussex Police regarding the assertion that supporters were in possession of offensive weapons at the Amex Stadium.

Amanda Jacks, a caseworker for the Football Supporters’ Federation, stated, according to BBC Sport: “Credit also to Sussex Police for admitting their mistake and issuing an apology. Whilst accepting and appreciating the apology, a large number of supporters on social media are now questioning whether or not they’ve got the accountability. The statement caused a lot of cynicism when it was first released, not least because football supporters do not habitually carry knives. I think this episode demonstrates the importance of general media scrutiny and not reporting things at face value.”

The game marked the first top-flight match between Brighton and Palace in 36 years. The rivalry was developed in the 1970s, when the clubs rose in tandem from the third division of English football to the first. Alan Mullery and Terry Venables piloted the Seagulls and Eagles, respectively. They were never friends while playing together at Tottenham Hotspur, and their feud led to games being played amid trouble in the terraces.

Palace and Brighton will meet at Selhurst Park in January for the third round of the FA Cup.

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