Paul Parker

Football isn’t spiralling out of control

Paul Parker

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When I look at the Premier League, I don't see a league that is spiralling out of control, despite the scenes we saw in Sunday's Manchester derby.

The biggest problem with the Premier League is that the money side of things is affecting everything - on and off the pitch. The stakes are so high in what is now a multi-million pound business and the pressure results in heightened emotions.

Let's get one thing straight though: we are in no danger of going back to the dark ages. The conduct of supporters and the oversight of the police is much better than it was back in the 1980s, for example. But it is the emotions of individuals that we now have to temper.

Some people transform from the office gentleman into a soldier engaged in tribal warfare when they enter a stadium. You can even deem a few of them to be a form of sociopath, in my opinion - especially those who pour hate from the stands and engage in racist abuse, or chuck a coin at a player.

It was disappointing to see Rio Ferdinand struck by a missile and the passion of derby day can never excuse an incident like that, even if the fixture has become much more full-on than my time, when City were not even seen as a threat.

City have spent hundreds of millions, they have won the league, so the fixture has become more competitive. That means passions are running higher than they previously were. The City fans might have seen their side lose a two-year unbeaten record at home but you can't react like that to adversity. It's not like this was a title-decider: we are not even at Christmas yet.

Perhaps it was a novice fan who is not used to the emotions of seeing his side lose to their arch enemies.

Man City fans have suffered for years and years at the hands of Manchester United and there has never been any problems inside the ground. But now City are under so much pressure due to the amount of money they have spent, it has affected everyone. It has affected the players, it has affected Roberto Mancini, who is under such scrutiny, and in a different way it has affected a small minority of fans too if they are willing to go that far over a game of football.

An element of the crowd got too emotional and one person did something very stupid. Nine times out of 10 that coin misses and we have nothing to talk about - but this time it hit him and now we have a big controversy on our hands.

There is talk of putting mesh up behind the goals but to be honest our game is better than that. Crowd control of that sort goes on in Italy and places but we don't want to see it here. There's no need to overreact to one incident, as disgraceful as it was. Fans don't want fences up in front of them when they come to watch a game.

What are you going to do? Ban fans from bringing coins to football and put them all through metal detectors?

When the police do find the person responsible then they have to be banned for life from all kinds of football. They have to be named and shamed as a deterrent for the future.

English football doesn't have a big problem - saying so only fans the flames and allows idiots to step forward - but somewhere down the line the kind of thing we saw on Sunday does have to be addressed.

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