London: Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) chief executive Gordon Taylor says it might be necessary to introduce netting around pitches to protect players.
Taylor was speaking after Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand was hit by an object as his side celebrated a winner against Manchester City on Sunday.
“I think you’ve got to consider, as has been suggested, some netting in vulnerable areas,” said Taylor. “Netting is not something we feel is necessary. It could be behind the goals and round the corner flags.”
Centre-back Ferdinand suffered a cut above his left eye after being struck. While Ferdinand played down the incident in a tweet, the Football Association has opened an investigation into the incident, which has been condemned by Manchester City.
In a similar incident in October, Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland was attacked by a fan who ran on to the pitch during his side’s match against Leeds United at Hillsborough. Kirkland, 31, required treatment after he was struck in the face during the Yorkshire derby, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Stadium designer Paul Fletcher feels the idea is unworkable as finding a mesh netting small enough to stop coins could prove impossible.
Ferdinand thanked Joe Hart, the City goalkeeper, for intervening when the fan tried to confront him. “Whoever threw that coin, what a shot!” the United centre half tweeted. “Can’t believe it was a copper 2p... could have at least been a £1 coin!
“Respect to Joe Hart for protecting that idiot who ran on!! Love the banter between fans but there is a point when it goes too far...calm it”.