West Ham could be in hot water with both the Metropolitan Police and the Football Association after trouble marred their last-ever match at Upton Park on Tuesday night.
The Hammers signed off in style with a tremendous 3-2 comeback victory over Manchester United.
But despite the fairytale finish, West Ham are expected to face ramifications after bottles were thrown at the Manchester United team coach as it struggled through the throngs of supporters ahead of the game.
Co-chairman David Gold bizarrely laid the blame at the door of United – and said match officials and police had been ‘kind’ to the visitors for delaying kick-off by 45 minutes.
‘’It is depressing really,’’ he said.
‘’It will be a late night for our fans and some of them won’t be able to stay. I don’t understand why United couldn’t get here at 4pm. They could have got here early. They knew it would be busy. It’s crazy.
‘’There was congestion in the street and they couldn’t get the coach in. There were people around the coach, but there was no attack on the coach.
‘’If you check the coach there won’t be any damage to it. If we arrived late at Old Trafford they wouldn’t put the kick-off back.’’
He also told TV broadcasters: ‘’I think the police and officials have been kind. I’d make them kick off at 7.45pm if I was in charge.”
The Metropolitan Police confirmed that one officer and a member of the public sustained minor injuries in the trouble.
A statement from the force said: ‘’We are aware that a number of items were thrown towards Manchester United’s coach.
‘’One police officer and a member of the public sustained minor injuries.
‘’There have been no arrests. An appropriate policing plan is in place.”
West Ham promised to ban for life any supporters who are identified following the trouble and said in a statement: “It was an extraordinary night full of extraordinary moments in front of extraordinary fans. 99 percent of whom behaved impeccably and were a credit to the club.
“We have already had thousands of Tweets and emails from fans to say how proud they were to be a part of such a special evening in West Ham’s history.
“However, we are aware that there were some supporters outside the Boleyn Ground who didn’t act in an appropriate way when the Manchester United team bus was damaged.
“That was not acceptable and we will work with the police to identify those responsible and ban them for life.”
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic intimated after the game that it was a lack of policing which had led to the incident.
“That is not a question for me,” he replied when asked about the pre-match trouble.
“It was strange for me, I don’t want to teach lessons to the people in Canary Wharf. In Canary Wharf if you poke your nose you have two policemen surround you saying you can’t do that.
“Here you have a football game, 50,000 people on the street, that is kind of strange to me.”
The FA later released a statement saying they would launch their own investigation into the unrest – including further incidents during the match.
Their statement said it ‘’strongly condemns the unsavoury incidents’’ involving both the Manchester United coach outside West Ham’s ground, and objects thrown from a section of the home support during tonight’s game. It will work closely with both clubs and the Metropolitan Police to fully investigate these matters.”
The defeat means United now face an uphill battle to reach to top-four and qualify for the Champions League.
Manager Louis van Gaal said he could not use the pre-match disruption as an excuse – but conceded it could have impacted on his younger players.
‘’First of all you cannot prove that (it had an effect),’’ he said.
‘’We live in this world, we know that, I know it is not the first time it happens. Okay, I have a long experience in football and there are players who don’t have the experience.
‘’It will have an influence but I don’t think we have to look for excuses because we chased the match in the second-half and 20 minutes before full-time we are ahead so I don’t think you have to look for that excuse.”