POLICE have confirmed that 46 men have been charged after the violent scenes outside of Aston Villa's clash with Legia Warsaw – including a man in possession of a knife.
West Midlands Police announced yesterday that 46 Legia fans were in custody following Thursday's serious disorder outside Villa Park at the Europa Conference League match.
Now a statement from the police has confirmed: “We’ve charged 46 men over Thursday night's violence outside Villa Park.
“Of those, 43 have been charged with a public order offence, while two have been charged with assaulting police officers and another has been charged with possession of a knife.
“Those charged are aged between and 21 and 63, and around 40 are believed to be from Poland. A small number are believed to be UK residents.
“All apart from one of the men is due in court today. He has been bailed to appear at a later date.
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“A special court has been set up at Birmingham magistrates and will begin hearing the cases this morning.”
It continued: “We are continuing to review CCTV and body-worn video footage to identify further suspects in what was an appalling and violent public disorder.
“It is now known five officers suffered minor injuries in the disorder.
ASTON VILLA TROUBLE TIMELINE
According to Villa the following timeline outlines Legia’s refusal to follow normal procedure.
10:30am – Match Day meeting during which Legia failed to accept their ticket allocation and informed those in attendance they would not be able to confirm if they would until 2.30pm.
2.30pm – Legia officials miss the first deadline to report back.
3.00pm – Legia officials miss the second deadline to report back despite repeated calls to them.
4.00pm – Legia officials finally confirm they wish to receive their ticket allocation, with a pick-up point arranged at the stadium.
6.00pm – Villa hand over tickets to Legia to distribute among their fans.
7.00pm – Police who have penned Legia fans into the Witton Lane car park, close to the Doug Ellis Stand they will occupy, begin to release fans.
7.05pm – Legia Ultras orchestrate violence and try to storm through police lines to gain access for ticketless fans, four police officers are injured in the ensuing violence.
8.00pm – The match kicks off – no Legia fans have been allowed into the away section.
“Two of these were from West Midlands Police, two from West Mercia and one from Derbyshire. They are receiving support at this time.
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“Two dogs from West Midlands Police and two horses from Thames Valley were injured and are recovering.”
Det Supt Jim Munro, who is overseeing the criminal investigation, said: “Our investigation is very much continuing and we’ll be reviewing footage and speaking to witnesses over the coming days.
“To charge this number of people so soon after such a major disorder has taken a huge effort by staff who have been working around the clock.
“We’ve had a number of messages of thanks from the club and fans who were present on Thursday night and saw the policing operation first hand, and we are really grateful for that support.”
Villa have reported Legia Warsaw to Uefa following the shameful scenes of violence.
Sources close to Uefa claim the Polish side's fans face being banned from all future away games after the shameful incident.
The chaos lasted over 90 minutes and was described by one cop as “the worst violence I've experienced in 28 years.”
Mounted officers joined riot police and dog handlers to try and disperse around 2,000 Legia fans who had been penned into a nearby car park prior to kick-off.
Four cops were injured in the disorder as they were attacked with flares, bricks, metal poles and tree branches.
After Villa secured their place in the knockouts with a 2-1 win, Assistant Chief Constable Damian Barratt said: “This was appalling and completely unacceptable disorder.
“What we saw was 90 minutes of planned violence, with one officer saying it was the worst he had seen in 28 years of policing.
“Our officers bravely put themselves in harm's way and I would like to commend each and every one of them for their efforts.
“We are committed to charging and remanding any and all responsible for attacking our officers and endangering the public.
“We had no issues with the home fans and would like to thank them and Aston Villa for their support and kind words last night and this morning.
“The only issues inside the ground last night were from a small number of away fans who had managed to get into home areas.
“We will be liaising with the club and footballing authorities in the coming days to discuss last night's appalling scenes.”
Villa swiftly dismissed claims by some Polish media outlets that were trying to lay blame on them for failing to provide enough tickets to Legia fans.
And they have contacted Uefa to report the unacceptable conduct of Legia Warsaw officials ahead of the high-risk tie.
Visiting teams to Villa Park would usually receive 5 per cent of capacity, which amounts to around 2,600 tickets for away supporters.
However, trouble flared during Legia's last visit to England when they lost 3-1 to Leicester City in 2021 as 20 police officers were injured that night when Polish Ultras ran riot.
In light of that, Villa agreed a revised figure of 1700 tickets with Legia officials nearly four weeks ago, with the full approval of Uefa.
However, when Legia fans again fought with Dutch police during their recent tie in Alkmaar, Uefa banned their fans from their next away tie against Zrinjski Mostar in Bosnia.
At that point, the UK Safety Advisory Group – which passes safety certificates for major events – refused to sanction the full 1700 allocation and slashed it by almost 700 to 1002 tickets.
That decision was completely out of Villa's control and was ratified by Uefa.
Villa claim Legia failed to convey that message to their fans immediately, which led to around 1,000 ticketless fans travelling to the UK.
Furthermore, Villa have accused Legia of being obstructive during a Match Day meeting on the morning of the match.
At the customary meeting attended by representatives of both clubs, Uefa, broadcasters, security staff, police and emergency services, Legia stunned Villa representatives by refusing to confirm if they would accept the reduced ticket allocation.
SunSport understands Legia representatives seemed determined to adopt and endorse their Ultras motto of: 'Don't leave anyone behind,' and were reluctant to accept the reduced allocation.
Uefa observers were present at the Witton Lane car park and witnessed the shocking scenes of violence which followed.
They immediately launched an investigation into the shocking scenes but were quick to praise West Midlands Police and Villa for their handling of the explosive situation.
It now appears certain Legia will face a lengthy ban from travelling to away fixtures after "off the scale violence," erupted for the third time in recent away trips.
At the height of the violence Villa raced to collect fire extinguishers from the stadium and nearby supporters hall and supplied police with them to try and douse the flames from hundreds of flares.
At one flashpoint Legia thugs tried to overturn a police van which was blocking their route.
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SunSport understands some Legia fans arrived in the UK hell-bent on causing mayhem and spoiling for a fight with police or Villa fans.
We understand border police found Mixed Martial Arts mitts and gum shields in the luggage of some fans, who had clearly come prepared to battle.
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