Liam Beckett: Football bosses need to stamp out field invasions quickly before it’s too late

Unless we act quickly and stamp out field invasions, what we all know and love as a beautiful game is in grave danger of becoming nothing more than a free-for-all.

Usually our problems off the pitch, both at home and across the Irish Sea, revolve around sectarianism or racism – indeed, you name it and football seems to have had it – but I see the most dangerous of them in this latest trend of mass invasions .

The majority are true fans who just can’t control their enthusiasm and want to express it by walking around partying with their team, but unfortunately, as is so often the case, these decent fans are quickly infiltrated by crazies who have nothing else on their minds than Wreak havoc and spoil it for everyone else.

If those in power don’t nip this in the bud, sooner or later someone will be seriously injured or even killed.

It doesn’t take long for tribal hooliganism to take hold, so it’s imperative for the men in suits to turn this on its head immediately.

Recently, there have been several shocking incidents of fan disruption, resulting in players and managers being confronted or attacked on the pitch by batsmen after the final whistle.

In fact, one of those brave thugs – Robert Biggs – has already gone to jail for headbutting Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp forcing him to have stitches, although personally I think his 24 weeks behind bars has been far too mild are punishment.

Now I hope and trust that the club he supports, Nottingham Forest, will nail that lout with a lifetime ban from the stadium and I’ll be amazed when they don’t.

I was also relieved to find that Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira is not facing any police action after responding to intruders who goaded him at Everton’s Goodison Park last week.

While I shouldn’t condone what Vieira did by taking revenge, I have to hold my hands up because I know I would have done exactly the same thing – and maybe even more.

Players and managers are only human, and each can only take so much from these pack-hunting cowards, which obviously makes them brave.

Luckily I’ve only had one such incident in my own playing career.

When the final whistle blew at the end of an important game, the place quickly filled with people and suddenly I got kicked on the ankle by a job that snuck up on me from behind. When I turned, determined to rearrange his features, he was already blending into the crowd with a sickly, smooth grin. I’ll never forget that cowardly face until the day I die, but I highly doubt I’ll ever get a chance to even the score by returning the compliment.

It currently appears that football matches, particularly those that draw large crowds, provide these slackers with a platform for wild hooliganism and there is no doubt that social media helps them arrange a group in advance that has nothing else in store head than to cause trouble during a mass invasion.

As I’ve already indicated, my primary concern is that one or more of these despicable thugs might be wielding a knife or weapon – the possible consequences of which are unimaginable.

This has to be at the top of my priority list now, because let’s not forget the well-tried saying: prevention is always the best medicine.

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