Alliance Sports Spokesperson Michael Long has welcomed the identification of supporters involved in trouble at last April’s Linfield-Glentoran match. He said, however, that the sentences would have been much stiffer had the problem occurred in England or Wales.
The Castlereagh Councillor stated: “I welcome the fact that sentences have been handed down for people who tarnished the game’s image so appallingly last Spring. As one who represents an area with a sizeable Irish League following, I know most supporters of the local game were outraged at the events.
“However, we must now move on to do something about this. The odd suspended sentence is not sufficient to end the scourge of hooliganism which threatens the local game. Supporters deserve to watch the game in safety and comfort, and we need to take legislative action to make this a reality.
“I would once again renew my call, recently backed by the IFA, for the Football Offences Act of 1991 and 1999 to be applied directly to Northern Ireland. This is one instance where the same problem requires the same solution. This, combined with the IFA’s continuing promotional work, would be a significant step forward.
“In the meantime I would call on both clubs to take resolute action against supporters involved in the trouble. They must ask themselves if so-called ‘supporters’ who engage in violence should be allowed into any ground again.”