EFL praise Millwall manager for Wembley actions

The EFL have said the actions of Millwall fans who invaded the Wembley pitch on Saturday were “completely unacceptable”, but praised Lions boss Neil Harris for urging supporters to go back to the stands.

Hundreds of fans entered to pitch after Millwall’s 1-0 League One play-off final win over Bradford, and some were seen approaching Bantams’ players and manager Stuart McCall.

Match-winner Steve Morison, who was visibly angry at the incursion, joined Harris in attempting to clear the pitch before the trophy presentation.

The EFL are contacting McCall and his players to apologise for what happened at Wembley, after Harris offered his own apology to Bradford when he spoke to the media after the game.

The EFL also praised the efforts of stadium stewards who tried to prevent fans from getting onto the pitch, and confirmed they would work with Wembley authorities to find out how the situation happened.

In a statement released on Monday, the EFL said: “The chorus of disapproval from the majority of Millwall fans forced to witness Saturday’s pitch invasion was a stark indication of the feeling inside Wembley Stadium at the end of the League One Play-Off Final but unfortunately it failed to prevent some unsavoury scenes.

“It is a criminal offence to enter the playing area and whilst some of those who made the decision to break the law did so to celebrate their team’s success back to the Championship, a mindless few opted to goad the Bradford City players.

“Their actions were completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated by the EFL.  The efforts of the Millwall manager and some of his players to remove the offenders from the pitch should be complimented as should Neil Harris’ appropriate and welcome apology on behalf of his Club.

“The EFL will be writing to Stuart McCall and his Bradford team to apologise for the situation they found themselves in.

“In addition, the EFL will be encouraging Wembley to work with both the Metropolitan Police and Millwall to identify those whose behaviour created the most concern on the day and to take the necessary and appropriate action.

“The EFL will also raise a number of concerns with Wembley as to how the fans were not only able to access the playing area but then able to get so close to the Bradford City team, who showed great restraint given an incredibly challenging and difficult situation.

“We cannot allow a set of circumstances to exist where the playing area becomes an appropriate place for fans to celebrate and Wembley, like stadiums across the Country, have to be prepared to deal with the type of events that emerged on Saturday efficiently and effectively so as to ensure there is no repeat.

“The efforts of one particular steward in keeping the Millwall fans away from the Bradford City team should be both recognised and applauded.”

Millwall chief executive Steve Kavanagh also released a statement today. He said: “Unfortunately the sheer emotion of winning in that fashion spilled over for a small minority who ran on to the pitch after the final whistle.

“Arguments can be made about the strength of the security operation but ultimately people need to be responsible for their own actions, especially as it is of course a criminal offence to enter the field of play.

“In my relatively short time at this club I have already seen just how much hard work and commitment goes into enhancing the club's reputation and thousands upon thousands of our fan base undoubtedly did their part to further that at the weekend. But we cannot condone the actions of the few who just went that bit too far on this occasion.

“Our focus now turns to carrying out comprehensive plans throughout the club ahead of the 2017/18 Championship season, which I'm sure everyone can't wait to begin.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly