POLICE are trawling CCTV footage and appealing for witnesses after banners mocking two dead Chester FC fans were displayed during the derby with Wrexham FC.
Supporters of both clubs were appalled when two banners – understood to refer to a 21-year-old who died in 2012 and a 23-year-old who died in 2002 – were displayed in the home stand.
This led to an angry reaction from the visitors’ end.
Stewards attempted to remove the banners but were attacked and police officers were also assaulted after entering the stands to rescue the stewards.
North Wales Police has confirmed an investigation into the offensive banners is now under way.
Supt Sacha Hatchett said: “The policing operation was successful and the majority of fans were well behaved and there was little trouble.
“Two men have so far been charged with being drunk and disorderly and one man has been charged with assault.
“However, our enquiries are continuing and we are carrying out a thorough investigation, including the examination of extensive CCTV footage, to trace those responsible for displaying the offensive banners and identify anyone else who committed criminal offences during the match.
“We expect to be making further arrests shortly to bring these offenders before the courts.”
There was a huge police presence around The Racecourse Ground on Saturday for the first cross-border derby since 2008.
Strict travel restrictions meant all Chester fans had to travel to the game on official coaches from the Deva Stadium with Wrexham supporters having to comply with the same restrictions for the return fixture later in the season.
Wrexham FC has pledged to support the police investigation and the club issued a statement reiterating that those involved in the disturbances are not welcome.
The statement read: “It should go without saying that the club condemns such actions, whether they be flares, smoke bombs, offensive banners, offensive chanting or any other anti-social behaviour.
“We are determined to stamp out such scenes at The Racecourse and those responsible are not welcome at our matches.
“The club is working hand-in-hand with the police and stadium authorities to identify the guilty parties, in addition to those arrests made on the day.
“The police have plenty of footage from their own cameras, as well as from the stadium's CCTV system, which will now be reviewed to assist such investigations.
“Our aim is to make sure those responsible will be held accountable for their actions before the courts.
“Once the legal system has run its course, then the club will look at possible domestic sanctions that can be taken against offenders.
“The vast majority of supporters once again upheld the reputation of both teams as community-run clubs and we thank you for that.”
Anyone with any information about the offensive banners has been asked to call North Wales Police on 101.
l CHESTER FC supporters have been praised for their co-operation with the so-called ‘bubble match’ restrictions.
Honorary life president Barrie Hipkiss leads the away travel team and organised the 18 coaches which travelled in police escort to and from Wrexham.
He has thanked supporters for arriving on time and helping ensure the coaches were able to depart in good time.
Mr Hipkiss said: “This really helped make the travel to Wrexham run as smoothly as possible and I’m really pleased everyone returned to Chester safely and were able to enjoy the match and result.”
Club directors were among those stewarding the coaches for the day and have also thanked fans for their co-operation.