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Sullivan plays down West Ham crowd problems

London (AFP) – West Ham United co-owner David Sullivan insists the crowd problems that marred Saturday’s Premier League clash with Middlesbrough at his club’s new London Stadium have been sensationalised.

Rival supporters were seen confronting each other inside the stadium, while footage of violence appeared on social media in the latest incident of crowd trouble to plague West Ham since they moved into the former Olympic arena in the close-season. 

The daughter of Middlesbrough owner Steve Gibson accused West Ham fans of “bottling” an elderly visiting supporter, with three men arrested in connection with the incidents and bailed pending further enquiries. 

Two of the three were arrested on suspicion of affray and the third on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.

But in a West Ham statement, Sullivan said the disturbances were caused by “mindless thugs” and insisted that while all crowd trouble needs to be eradicated, the incidents were not exclusive to his team.

“It makes me angry to read stories this morning sensationalising the events outside London Stadium yesterday (Saturday),” Sullivan said.

“A group of mindless thugs with no intention of watching the game came together outside the ground, and three arrests were made.

“I have watched all the videos and as far as I can see, any issues were routine football problems that were dealt with swiftly and safely.

“It is clear that the police were quick and professional in bringing any incidents under control, and although it is something that we must stamp out from football in general, the scenes were certainly not exclusive to West Ham.”

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