Brawley Town and Bad-ford City slug it out as FA vow to punish guilty players
21:40 GMT, 28 March 2012
The card count from the Bradford brawl could rise still higher after the FA vowed to punish any fighting that escaped the attention of referee Ian Williamson.
As former Premier League official Dermot Gallagher defended Williamson for standing back and letting the free-for-all continue unchecked, FA bosses confirmed a record-equalling five players had been red-carded after the match and would be suspended for a total of 18 games.
But Sportsmail has learned that video footage will be used to ensure every player found guilty of violent conduct in Tuesday night’s mass brawl will be banned.
Kicking and screaming: Players wade in from both Crawley and Bradford at full time
Having received Williamson’s report yesterday, the FA have promised swift action against every individual who threw a punch. And both clubs, Bradford City and Crawley, face hefty fines for failing to control their players.
The FA feel that Williamson could not possibly have noted every offender and that retrospective measures are required to ensure no-one slips the net.
FA disciplinary chiefs will also examine whether those already shown a red card by Williamson deserve extra punishment.
If it is found that any of the five threw punches at more than one player, they will effectively be deemed guilty of a second sending-off offence and banned for even longer.
Riot: Bradford keeper Jon McLaughlin is escorted from the field by Crawleys Michael Kuipers
As it stands, Bradford’s Jon McLaughlin and Luke Oliver and Crawley’s Pablo Mills must serve three matches each, while Andrew Davies (five) and Claude Davis (four) will miss additional games after already being dismissed this season.
According to witnesses, Bradford’s former England Under 21 centre back Davies reacted angrily to a taunt from Crawley veteran Davis at the final whistle. Davies lunged at Davis and appeared to aim a slap at him.
Players from both sides waded in, swinging punches near the centre circle.
Williamson made no attempt to break up the melee but took the right course of action, according to Gallagher, who told BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘He could easily have found himself on the end of a stray fist.’
With all three banned players out of Saturday’s trip to Plymouth, and more games besides, the incident could cost Bradford their place in the Football League.