PNE could face fine over flare

Smoke obscures the view at Monday night's FA Cup tie
Smoke obscures the view at Monday night's FA Cup tie
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Preston North End could face financial punishment after a flare was thrown onto the pitch during their glamour FA Cup tie against Manchester United at Deepdale on Monday night.

The incident occurred shortly after North End’s Scott Laird had given the home side a shock lead in the 48th minute of the match.

As Laird and his team-mates celebrated wildly in front of PNE supporters in the Alan Kelly Town End, the flare was thrown onto the pitch, causing a slight delay to the re-start of proceedings.

The alleged perpetrator behind the incident was promptly arrested and is being questioned by police but sanctions may still be imposed on PNE by the Football Association, who have sent a letter to the club asking for its observations of the incident.

It is not the first time the club has been in trouble with the authorities due to the behaviour of its fans this season.

The club was threatened with a hefty fine in November after police recovered five pyrotechnic devices during North End’s 1-0 victory over League One leaders Bristol City at Ashton Gate.

That followed an initital warning about PNE’s away support after a disruption during their 4-0 victory over Scunthorpe at Glanford Park in August.

The club stressed that it is only a small minority of fans whose behaviour is being called into question.

But the fact that it will be the third time PNE have been warned about the conduct of some of its supporters in the past six months, could result in the club being slapped with a financial penalty.

If that scenario was to happen, it could impact on manager Simon Grayson’s ability to strengthen his squad in the loan market for the final run-in to the season.

North End general manager Ben Rhodes said: “We have already had a letter from the FA asking for our comments and we will supply those.

“It is good to know that the alleged culprit was arrested, is in custody and will be dealt with by the authorities.

“But we have been asked for our comments on matters before and there may well be a fine coming our way.”

The club warned that any supporter found guilty of an offence would be banned from Deepdale for a substantial amount of time.

Rhodes, though, praised the vast majority of fans for the atmosphere they created against United, a game which attracted a sell-out crowd, although ultimately ended in a 3-1 defeat for PNE.

“Supporters, corporate guests, media – they have all said what a great night it was,” Rhodes said. “If all these people come back, it will be a great asset to Simon and his team’s dream of winning promotion.”