Saints fans speak out as club closes whole block after trouble at match

Everton's Seamus Coleman (left) and Southampton's Sekou Mara battle for the ball during the Premier League match at St Mary's on October 1. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images
Everton's Seamus Coleman (left) and Southampton's Sekou Mara battle for the ball during the Premier League match at St Mary's on October 1. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images

SAINTS’ decision to close an entire block at St Mary’s has sparked a mixed reaction among fans.

The club announced Block 1 of the Itchen North Stand will close following “unacceptable behaviour” during Southampton’s clash with Everton last weekend.

A Premier League matchday report found 27 missiles had been thrown across the segregation line by both home and away fans.

Bosses had previously warned fan behaviour would be closely watched following problems during Saints' first home game of the season against Leeds.

Read more: Saints warn fan trouble at United visit could have consequences

However, some fans think closing the whole block will only move the problem elsewhere.

Season ticket holder, Danielle Thornton, often attends away games and has raised concerns about fans getting into the ground in the first place.

She said: “If anything it’s going to fuel them even more because they’re going to be annoyed.

“They’re going to be moved somewhere else and all that’s going to do is drag that trouble somewhere else in the stadium which is stupid.

“At Tottenham Hotspur’s ground, it’s like being at an airport when you go to a game. The biggest issue [at St Mary’s} is the security.”

She also said the closure of the block would “kill the atmosphere”.

Read more: Saints fan handed ban after hurling gum at opposition supporters

Steve Grant who runs forum, Saints Web, said the club should be focusing on stopping away fans sitting in home stands.

“The club is still doing nothing in that part of the ground to prevent away fans getting tickets in the home end.

“Yet they are continuing to try and wage some weird war with their own fans.

“They’ve relocated season ticket holders into block 2, so those people are still there.

“I don’t see how this is going to have any effect other than [upsetting] a load of season ticket holders.”

Southampton's Joe Aribo scores their side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at St Mary's. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images

In an email sent to season ticket holders on Wednesday, the club said: "Unfortunately, last Saturday's fixture saw more unacceptable behaviour from both home and away fans.

"There was a dangerous surge towards the segregation line following our goal and the Premier League matchday report identified a total of 27 missiles being thrown across the segregation line by both home and away supporters."

Read more: Saints close entire block due to fan trouble and relocate season ticket holders

The club also said it made the decision to close Block 1 with “great disappointment” and that all season ticket holders will be relocated with new CCTV also fitted.

Sixty-year-old lifelong Saints fan, Nick Illingsworth, thinks the clubs’ hands were tied.

He told the Echo: “Their hand has been forced by the ground regulation committee.

“I don’t think anyone who has seen the area would deny that there’s been an issue.

“I’ve got some sympathy with the club because they’ve taken measures to try and stop this. They restricted ticket sales in that area.

“They’ve tried to stop it and mainly have succeeded but the Everton game has provided ammunition for the ground regulation committee.”

Frances Goulding, 55, has held a season ticket holder for 18 years and sits opposite the block.

She said: “I didn’t see any missiles thrown but if there were, I think the club is right to do what it needs to do to keep those fans out of the ground.

“Most fans don’t go there to cause trouble or get involved in trouble. It’s quite off-putting.

“I don’t think it helps where the away fans are located in the ground. They do take up quite a large corner behind the goal where our noisiest people are.

“It would help if the away fans were relocated but that would mean season ticket holders get moved.”

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