A fan has been charged by police after running on to the pitch and making a beeline for the referee during Rochdale’s home game against Oldham on Tuesday night.
Referee Peter Bankes had to side-step a pitch invader, who then slipped and was restrained by Latics defender Anthony Gerrard, moments after Dale were awarded a penalty in their 0-0 draw with fellow strugglers Oldham.
Greater Manchester Police said it has charged a 27-year-old man with pitch encroachment, possession of a class A drug and a section 4 public order offence – using threatening/abusive/insulting words/behaviour with intent to cause fear of/provoke unlawful violence.
He is due to appear at Manchester Magistrates Court on May 9.
Oldham have also confirmed they have issued the fan with a two-year banning order from the club.
In a statement on their official website, they said: “The supporter has admitted his shame and apologised to the club, however, we condemn his actions in the strongest possible terms and have made this swift decision.”
Rochdale added in their own statement: “Rochdale Football Club would like to thank Oldham for acting swiftly and for working closely with us on this matter.”
On the incident, Latics boss Richie Wellens told the Oldham Chronicle: “I saw the end of it. I saw someone slip into Gerrard.
“If he’s a fan running on the pitch he’s picking on the wrong lad in Gerrard because I’ve seen him box.
“For any fan to come on to the pitch is not right. There are loads of fans here who were brilliant and behaved.
The scene at the Crown Oil Arena occurred six days after English referee Michael Oliver had sent Gianluigi Buffon off in a Champions League tie, with the Juventus goalkeeper having confronted the official following his decision to hand Real Madrid a crucial late penalty.
Ex-referee Graham Poll believes the two incidents epitomise the current attitude towards officials.
Writing for The Daily Mail, Poll said: “This shameful incident at Rochdale took place less than a week after Gianluigi Buffon’s abuse of Michael Oliver. It is unlikely that this was a coincidence.
“If respect is not shown to referees at the highest level, then this kind of behaviour can trickle down to the lower leagues.
“While Buffon is not solely to blame, his actions were symptomatic of how officials are now being treated.
“This clash between Rochdale and Oldham was an intense local derby with a heavy police presence. When Rochdale were awarded a penalty, a fan made a beeline for referee Peter Bankes.
“Bankes, a former Premier League linesman, thankfully managed to dodge the attack but he may be affected psychologically by what happened.”