Millwall and Liverpool fans have blamed each other for the violence which marred the Carling Cup third-round tie at The New Den.
Lions supporters have denied chants about the Hillsborough disaster sparked the violence which led to 68 seats being ripped out in the visitors’ section of the ground and four supporters – three from Liverpool and one from Millwall - being ejected from the ground.
Millwall’s official supporters group insisted today Liverpool fans must shoulder the blame for the trouble, which the Football Association today confirmed they will officially investigate.
Fans of the Premiership club alleged the violence in the away end of the ground was caused by sick chants from a section of home fans about the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, when 96 fans were killed before the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
But Joe Broadfoot, a board member of the Lions’ Trust – Millwall’s official supporters club, said: “I did not hear any chanting about Hillsborough, and nor did anybody around me, so it has come as a bit of a surprise to hear Liverpool fans claiming this.”
Police had to put on riot gear to prevent Liverpool supporters reaching the pitch, and a disabled supporter at the edge of the field was injured in the melee that scarred the visitors’ 3-0 win.
Broadfoot added: “I think they are making an excuse for the events that took place in their end of the ground. If there was chanting, why did the TV microphones not pick it up, and why did none of the security staff hear it?
“Millwall operate a zero-tolerance policy for such behaviour.
“If there was chanting about Hillsborough, of course we would not condone it, but I think some people are fabricating evidence.
“When Millwall are involved in these kind of incidents, sections of the media go against them simply because of the club’s reputation for trouble in the past.”
Liverpool fans alleged a section of Millwall supporters were chanting “Hillsborough” and “You should have all died at Hillsborough”.
The FA plan to speak to both clubs and police, as well as reviewing the report of referee Alan Wiley.
But English football’s governing body would not put a timescale on their decision and a spokesman said: “The key factor is to get as many details as we can, rather than setting an unrealistic dateline.”
Millwall chairman Theo Paphitis claimed his club was the innocent party in last night’s events.
In a statement published on the club’s official website, Paphitis said: “The facts are that Liverpool fans clashed with riot police in the lower tier of the North Stand and appeared to be attempting to get at Millwall supporters.
“The suggestion is that they were provoked by chanting referring to the Hillsborough tragedy, but there was no chanting of this nature that was clearly audible to the majority of people in the ground.
“Naturally, if any such chanting did occur it is deplorable and in the worst possible taste.”
Paphitis claimed the presence of a Liverpool supporter in the West Stand had caused the violence to begin.
He added: “Having studied CCTV footage, our belief is that the catalyst for the trouble was a Liverpool fan who had bought a West Stand ticket from a tout.
“We have no desire to deflect blame onto Liverpool, but we are not prepared to be the scapegoats once again after all the work we have undertaken to try to put our own house in order.”
Despite the comments today, Millwall fans have been branded a “disgrace”.
Phil Hammond, spokesman for the Hillsborough Families Support Group, hit out at the south London club’s fans.
He said: “They are a disgrace, the scum of the earth. How can people chant like that about the dead?
“Millwall should find out who they were, and ban them. It is no different to racism and Liverpool fans deserve an apology.
“Obviously, you can’t condone what some Liverpool fans did, that was wrong. But there were people in the Liverpool end who still have terrible memories of what happened at Hillsborough and it only takes a little spark for it all to come back into their minds.”
Liverpool fans also claim that they were subjected to taunts about Ken Bigley, the Merseysider who was recently murdered in Iraq and also a chant of “There’s only one Boris Johnson”.
Johnson, the Tory MP, travelled to Liverpool last week to apologise for an article in the Spectator magazine criticising the organised grieving after Bigley’s death and the Hillsborough tragedy.
Les Lawson, spokesman for the official Liverpool supporters’ club, said: “The Hillsborough situation has been put back in the public eye by Boris Johnson, and then you get idiots from Millwall chanting about it.
“His comments stoked things up again and then something like this happens. Of course Liverpool fans should not have behaved like they did, but there is only so much that some people can take.
“People have relatives and friends who died at Hillsborough for God’s sake, there are some people who still cannot go to a match because of it.”