Fans of Portsmouth were left disgruntled over recent days by the decision taken by Sunderland to give their supporters a reduced allocation for the play-off semi final first leg at the Stadium of Light next Saturday.
According to The News, Portsmouth’s local paper, they understand the decision to slash the amount of tickets afforded to Pompey supporters by over a third is a direct consequence of the pyrotechnic issue which occurred during their recent trip to Wearside when, upon scoring the game’s equaliser, a smoke bomb was thrown from the North Stand upper tier down into the Sunderland supporters below.
An 18-year old fan, Samuel Parrott, was subsequently arrested and charged for the incident which means that his fellow Pompey supporters suffer as a consequence.
The incident has even caused Pompey CEO Mark Catlin to distance the club from the so-called supporters who carry out such mindless acts, saying:
I will stand behind Portsmouth fans, they are one of the most passionate, loyal, brilliant fanbases in the country. I am not going to let a few idiots spoil that reputation. I’m not going to allow the minority of people spoil what I believe is the reputation for the majority.
Unfortunately there have been a few incidents occurring recently. But if there is any silver lining, it is the huge backlash from Pompey fans – who I consider the vast majority – towards such culprits.
You want our fans to self-police to a degree so that things become socially and morally unacceptable, maybe they become isolated. The last thing anyone wants is for a Pompey fan to get into trouble with the authorities.
I don’t want to highlight the incidents, they have been caused by one or two individuals. You don’t want to keep publicising, it’s not representative of the vast majority of Pompey fans who are decent, want to go to a game, want to enjoy it, want to get home safely and don’t want to cause any trouble.
I am loath to keep going on about individuals, but it’s just that, individuals.
You can’t say and use the word “Pompey fans” for the actions of a few mindless individuals.
I hope our fans behave, whether it’s against Sunderland or any other team, and it’s important to note that 99.9 per cent of them do.
Having said that, I’m reading all too frequently lately of mainly individuals doing something which unfortunately tarnishes the whole fanbase – and that’s really upsetting.
And, low and behold, this has seen supporters of Portsmouth bemoan the decision by Sunderland’s safety advisory group. But are they right to feel aggrieved?
I’d argue not, no.
The actions of one fans are not fully representative of thousands of others, but from Sunderland’s perspective this is a chance to make it clear to visiting supporters that you cannot come to the Stadium of Light and behave abhorrently.
They have to make it clear to their own fans that they are taking acts such as the ones involving supporters of Portsmouth and Coventry very seriously.
For some Sunderland supporters this should reassure them that should they choose to sit in the North stand that they aren’t at risk of being knocked unconscious by a missile launched towards them by an idiot above.
It’s sad that we have to even act this way, but if we don’t we’re sending out the complete wrong message to fans of other clubs who see Sunderland as a big day out and choose to take large allocations of tickets.
I’m speaking here purely as a football supporter. I’d be absolutely mortified if Sunderland fans were caught up in throwing missiles at opposition supporters for no reason and if it happened I’d completely back the stance of the authorities if we were punished as a result.
So whilst fans of Portsmouth feel hard done to, it’ll perhaps make ALL fans stand up and take notice when stupid acts are carried out by mindless idiots.
Like Pompey CEO Mark Catlin said, you want your fans to self-police. I’d like to think that if Sunderland supporters saw one of their own doing something ridiculous that compromises their own fans that we’d deal with it ourselves, because we’re decent folk who understand there’s a line you don’t cross.
Throwing missiles into areas of the stadium where elderly supporters and families sit is about as low as it gets - now, hopefully this will put an end to what has been a sorry run for away supporters attending games at the Stadium of Light. Enough is enough.