Police have come under fire after chaotic scenes erupted as Bolton Wanderers fans made their way from Wigan Athletic’s DW Stadium at the weekend. Videos have emerged on social media showing tension after the football match on Saturday (April 2), which ended in a 1-1 draw.
The behavior of some supporters had been criticized by a high-profile figure at Greater Manchester Police as reports of disorder following the game first surfaced. But a number of fans have called GMP out over ‘police brutality’, after footage surfaced which appears to show officers pushing men to the ground as they made their way from Wigan’s stadium.
Two videos, shared on social media, focus on tension between police and supporters at a bridge over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal behind the stadium. Wanderers fans were kept inside the DW Stadium while Latics supporters left, before those leaving on foot were escorted by police to Wallgate, via the bridge near Miry Lane.
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One of the videos shows officers trying to stop Bolton fans from crossing the bridge after the game, before supporters manage to force their way over to the other side. A man in a gray jumper steps back towards the bridge, but falls to the ground when an officer appears to push him back away from it.
Another supporter in a gray jumper can be seen standing close to the canal exchanging words with an officer, who then appears to move his hand up to the fan’s neck and push him to the ground. Bolton fans can be heard shocked in both videos, with a man saying in one of the clips: “They’ve f***** this up so badly.”
A woman can also be heard in the other video on Twitter, shouting: “Are you f****** mad? Did you see they just hit him?” Bolton fan Joshua O’Donnell was one of the supporters walking along the route and saw the chaos at the bridge unfolding.
I have told the Manchester Evening News : “GMP police this fixture with absolutely no respect for the fans. Once I personally got onto the bridge there were several fans mouthing to the GMP about how it’s not nice when some had young children present.
“The police made an absolute mess of the day and not even for the first time during this particular fixture do hundreds of supporters think and feel that the trouble is caused by the policing. To then be hitting out at supporters like shown in the video footage is out and out police brutality and they should be called out for it.”
After the videos were shared on Twitter, actions from GMP officers in the clips were condemned by some supporters. One person wrote: “Need education on crowd control. Shocking.” Another tweeted: “What were the police thinking. Just let fans go their own way. Seems an issue with lower league clubs.”
Not all football fans on Twitter were in agreement, however. One person wrote: “To be fair the police have been pushed back towards steps which has put their personal safety in danger. Works both ways. The cheap shot on the bald bloke is out of order the other is a detention of someone looking for trouble .”
The videos were shared following comments made by Lee Broadbent, chair of the GMP Federation. Responding to reports of violence in the town center following the match, he wrote on Twitter: “Some football fans. We’ve seen a rise in football related disorder within GMP which not only impacts on those decent fans attending the game, but also has a knock on for officers policing them re numbers and increased canceled rest days to ensure safe policing. #ItsNotOn”
Separately from the incident at the bridge, GMP made 13 arrests in connection with the game. Aside from one arrest over a flare being used at the DW Stadium, all 12 were following the match. Four people have since been charged.
The reverse fixture, which saw Wanderers thumped 4-0 by Latics, had been marred by trouble – with the referee stopping the game at one point as objects were thrown onto the University of Bolton Stadium pitch. A decision was taken to move Saturday’s game from a 3pm kick-off to 12.30pm three weeks before the fixture.
Wigan supporters have also reported hearing sectarian abuse chanted by Bolton fans during Saturday’s game, aimed at James McClean. The Irish wing-back fired Latics into an early 1-0 lead as his side dominated the first half, but Wanderers improved after the break and netted a late equalizer through Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.
GMP was unable to comment before the MEN’s deadline.
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