Villa and Baggies fans join forces to criticise timing of FA Cup clash
Aston Villa and West Brom fans have joined forces to criticise the scheduling of their FA Cup quarter-final clash on Saturday evening.
Trouble flared before, during and after the Villa Park showdown, prompting the English Football Association to announce it has launched an investigation into the disturbances.
The national lead officer for football policing, Mark Roberts, questioned the 5.30pm kick-off time and his view has been backed by supporters of both clubs.
Aston Villa fan Matt Turvey, editor of astonvillalife.com, watched the game from the Upper Holte End and insisted: "The timing was pretty stupid.
"I'm not overly sure about the rationale but 12.30pm would have been ideal. You're getting people drinking from 9.30am and turning up at Villa Park at 5.30pm - it's a pretty obvious result."
Police made 17 arrests related to the game, during which Villa fans invaded the pitch and seats were thrown from the North Stand housing visiting supporters.
West Brom Official Supporters' Club chairman Alan Cleverley said it was time the authorities took more notice of fans' concerns. Cleverley said: "Let's blame the fans of both clubs, the BBC and the Football Association. I spoke to the police four weeks ago and told them it was going to happen. The answer to this one was to kick off at 12pm on Saturday, or even 11am - the real fans would have been there at that time.
"The game should never have kicked off at the time it did."