Football fans including children pepper-sprayed by police

Police have issued an apology after football fans were pepper-sprayed by officers during Saturday’s clash with Stoke and Preston North End.

Visiting supporters, including children, were sprayed by police during the half-time interval on the away concourse at Deepdale, reports the Stoke Sentinel.

It has been suggested that some fans had been trying to leave the stadium to have a cigarette.

Lancashire Police are to launch an investigation into the incident and Football Supporters Federation case worker Amanda Jacks will attend a de-brief on Tuesday.

PC Paul Elliott, who interacts with away fans as PNEPolice on Twitter , said: “Firstly let me say I’m the football officer for Preston North End. I’m a PC and have been working in football operations for 12 years, every game home and away.

“I take everything that happens at Preston North End games personally and I can assure all Stoke City fans that the incident that occurred at half-time will be fully investigated.

“There will be a full post-match debrief on Tuesday and all the commanders involved in today’s operation will attend.”

He added: “I will personally inform Stoke City fans and fans groups of the outcome and will invite a representative from the Football Supporters Federation to attend for total transparency.

“I sincerely apologise to any innocent Stoke City fans caught up in this incident.”

One supporter wrote on Twitter: "Stoke supporters pepper sprayed at Preston at half-time, little children crying, diabolical behaviour."

When fellow fans asked what had sparked the incident, Chris Rossi wrote: "Stoke fans tried get out for a smoke. Honestly."

Richard Skelton had taken his fiancee’s 10-year-old son to his first ever Stoke away game.

He said: "I have never seen conduct like it. Stoke fans just wanted a cigarette so were standing by the doors waiting to go outside. When you have to literally drag your lad out of the concourse… this could have ended in crowd violence."

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