Supporters’ Trust release statement on Red Star fans infiltrating Spurs stadium

Image: SpursWeb

Tottenham Hotspur got back to winning ways in the Champions League this week, their first victory in the competition since that iconic second-half display in Amsterdam earlier in the year.

Spurs had opened their account for this season with a disappointing 2-2 away draw against Olympiacos, after leading the game 2-0.

Tottenham were then embarrassed at home as Bayern Munich thumped seven past them in a 7-2 win in game week two.

Fortunately, the Lilywhites were back to their free-flowing best against the Serbian champions on Tuesday night as they scored five without reply.

However, there was some stadium drama on the night as the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust revealed that a number of away Red Star Belgrade fans managed to gain entry to the ground.

This came after away ticket sales were banned following racist chanting from Red Star fans in a qualifying match.

The THST have now revealed exactly what happened and how it was dealt with in a detailed statement:

Once it was announced by UEFA that general admission Red Star Belgrade fans were banned from attending the match at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium as part of a punishment for racism, it was clear some would try to gain entry. Football fans try hard to watch their team and Red Star fans are no exception. As usual, lots of rumours circulated on social media. We passed on any posts indicating there would be Red Star fans in home areas to the Club and ensured the Safety team were prepared. We were told any away fans identified at the podium entrances or at the turnstiles would be denied access to the stadium and that any identified inside the stadium would be ejected.

We asked the Club to emphasise that UEFA rules require roughly 200 Category 1 tickets to be made available to the visiting club, which would mean some away fans would be in home areas, normally in the West Upper. This allocation is designed for club officials, players and staff, principally. The Club made this clear in pre-match communications to match attenders.

The Club had sold general admission tickets for this game under restricted sale, with only Season Ticket Holders and One Hotspur members eligible to purchase and with a cut-off date for new memberships. Their sales policy was fully compliant with UEFA requirements.

On the night, it soon became clear that a number of Red Star fans had obtained tickets for the match. The Club is investigating the source of those tickets and has stated that Season Ticket holders and One Hotspur members traced as those sources will face the strongest possible sanctions. The Club and Police refused entry to any fans obviously supporting Red Star at the stadium entrances.

A number of Red Star fans managed to gain entry to the ground. In what appeared to be a coordinated move, the majority of those fans made their way to the back of the upper tier in the north stand. This was an empty area as the tickets for this match had not sold out, and the backs of upper tiers are normally the last to sell. It should be noted that Red Star fans are extremely organised, experienced and have done this before in other stadia.

As pockets of Red Star fans were identified in other areas of the stadium, a decision was made to move those to the North Upper. In that area, Red Star fans could be contained by stewards and the Police, as opposed to being ejected onto the street or remaining scattered across the home support. Spurs fans seated in that section of the North Upper were moved into vacant seats close by under steward supervision and an area with impromptu segregation was created.

A decision was made in the Control Room to focus efforts on containing the Red Star fans peacefully as opposed to focusing on trying to enforce seating. This resulted in away fans standing throughout the match. It was a decision supported by the local authority representatives in response to unfolding events.

At half time, Red Star fans entering the Level 5 concourse area had their tickets confiscated and were ejected by the Police. Those who remained in the stand were held back at the end of the game, taken out via a separate staircase and handed over to the Police.

In the circumstances, it seems that the Club handled a fast-moving situation well and there were no flashpoints or incidents of violence whatsoever. Decisions were made in real-time to contain Red Star fans while minimising the risk of wider disorder.

We support the Club’s commitment to identify Spurs fans responsible for passing on their tickets and we have also asked for clarification of next steps from UEFA.

We can understand the feelings of those Spurs fans who were moved or were close to the Red Star fans in the North Upper tier. And we appreciate how frustrating it is when it appears that away fans are treated differently, particularly in European ties when our travelling supporters regularly experience poor treatment. However, we’re satisfied THFC responded well to a difficult situation on the night, as did our supporters.

With a lot of conversation circulating about during and after the match, we hope this clarifies what happened and why.

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