1. ITV Report

Football Supporters' Federation: Nets would be 'knee-jerk' reaction

Rio Ferdinand was struck by a coin apparently thrown from the crowd Photo: PA Images

Fans' leaders claim erecting netting to prevent missiles being thrown at players would be a knee-jerk reaction.

Rio Ferdinand was injured by a coin thrown by a fan during the Manchester derby yesterday and Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor believes there is a case for putting netting up around certain areas of the pitch to protect players.

But Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF), feels that is unnecessary and said arrests at grounds have dropped by almost a quarter over the last year.

Clarke told Press Association Sport: "Netting is not something we feel is necessary to have.

"No-one condones the throwing of missiles, but arrests last season were 24% down on previous seasons and not many social phenomena alter that much.

"It is undoubtedly improving and I think before we start making knee-jerk reactions to particular incidents we ought to bear that in mind."

Clarke hopes supporters will become more self-policing and that peer pressure would also prevent fans throwing coins.

He added: "Let's not get things out of proportion. The arrest figures are dramatically down and overall it is looking very positive."

Nets are common on the continent and Taylor said they should be looked at in the Premier League.

Taylor said: "We should give some consideration to looking at the vulnerable areas, behind the goals and round the corner flags.

"Players should not be in the position of getting hurt by missiles being thrown."

He also insisted that Ferdinand was not in any way to blame for celebrating United's late winner.

"Sport is all about passion and especially so in a derby game - of course players should be allowed to celebrate," he added.

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