Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pub landlady defends football fans

Source: Lancashire Telegraph
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By Sally Henfield

Four arrested but fight claims denied

A LANDLADY has defended the behaviour of football fans arrested for allegedly fighting outside her pub and said she would welcome them back to the bar.

Four men were arrested outside the Irwell Inn, Bacup, on Saturday, ahead of the game between Bacup Borough and FC United of Manchester.

Police said the men were restrained after a fight broke out among supporters outside the Burnley Road pub.

But fans and staff said they saw no fighting.

And one of the fans given a fixed penalty notice for disorder has vowed to contest the decision in court.

Landlady Josephine Hanley said: "I couldn't have wished for a better set of suppoerters in the pub. They were all very polite, there was no arguing and certainly no fighting.

"All they wanted was to have a good time and to watch the football."

Mrs Hanley said a number of fans were standing outside the pub.

She added: "The place was heaving so some of the fans had spilled outside, but they were all behind the wall of the pub. One of the police vans pulled up.

"That's when people started to get arrested. These were genuine fans and many had their families with them. They are welcome back to the pub at any time they like."

FC United fans have been posting complaints about their treatment, along with video footage, on the internet.

Daniel Larkin, a pub landlord from Sale, was one of those arrested. He denied there was fighting.

Mr Larkin, 39, said: "It was a really friendly atmosphere in the pub and everyone was getting along great.

"It was very busy so we went outside. There were a few fans on the road but they moved when they were asked to by police.

"I don't know why they handcuffed me because I wasn't causing any trouble. I was gutted I missed the match."

Mr Larkin said he refused to accept a caution for obstructing a police officer and would contest the charge in court. He said: "I have never been in any trouble in my life and I won't just take this lying down."

Police previously said Burnley Road had been temporarily closed during the incident and that four men were arrested for fighting but released with £80 fixed penalty notices. Officers were unavailable for comment on the claims of Mrs Hanley and Mr Larkin.