Widnes Vikings have been fined £20,000 after an independent tribunal found them guilty of serious breaches of RFL operational rules following crowd disturbances at the end of the Challenge Cup semi-final against Castleford Tigers at Leigh Sports Village in August.
The match, watched by a sold-out 12,005 crowd, was marred by a pitch invasion when fans from the Widnes end ran onto the field immediately after the Tigers had booked their place at Wembley with a 28-6 win.
Widnes were found to be in breach of Operational Rule D1.8c (improper conduct), D1.10b (safety/misconduct of spectators) and the RFL’s Respect Policy.
Rule D1.10b states that clubs are “responsible to the RFL for the actions of their spectators and all persons purporting to be their supporters, and are required to use their best endeavours to take all precautions to ensure that their spectators and all persons purporting to be their supporters do not threaten, abuse or assault third parties.”
Clubs must also ensure that “their spectators, or people purporting to be their supporters, do not damage property, or invade the pitch, or pitch surrounds, or throw missiles on the pitch, or act in a disorderly or improper manner before, during or after the conclusion of matches.”
Widnes were instructed to pay £10,000 immediately with a further £10,000 suspended until the end of the 2015 season. The tribunal also ordered the club to pay £4,000 costs.
The Tribunal acknowledged Widnes Vikings’ full cooperation with the RFL’s investigation but felt the sanction should reflect the seriousness of the incidents.