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Police urge troublemakers to steer clear of local derby match this Friday.

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Police are working in partnership with Coleraine and Ballymena United football clubs to ensure any rivalry over Friday night’s local derby match stays friendly.

Both clubs have been working closely with local police to ensure there is no repeat performance of the public disorder that took place when the teams met in Ballymena before Christmas.

Inspector Heather Scott said: “The trouble that followed the derby march in November was a blip in an otherwise good record for both teams’ supporters and we welcome the fact the clubs have clearly demonstrated that their interest only lies in providing an entertaining match for the fans.

“The vast majority of supporters are only interested in seeing their side win and enjoying the match however, as we saw last year, there is a small element intent on causing trouble and getting into fights, which ultimately brings the club they claim to support into disrepute.

“In order to ensure that the evening passes without incident every match goer must submit to a search prior to entering the grounds. Last year we saw people bringing knives and flares and this is unacceptable. If you are found to be in possession of a weapon or unauthorised object then there will be consequences. Our message is simple – troublemakers should stay away. There will be a police presence in and around the grounds to offer reassurance to the fans and local residents and to prevent any outbreaks of disorder.”

Ballymena United FC Chairman, John Taggart said: “The message from our club is very simple – if you are not there to enjoy the game and to allow others to enjoy the game please stay at home. Nobody at Ballymena United wishes to see injury caused to any individual and would ask supporters to act responsibly at all times.”

Coleraine FC Chairman Colin McKendry restated the club’s support for PSNI initiatives adding: “We in no way condone anti-social behaviour outside Irish League football matches. As such, all supporters should follow police guidance for the upcoming derby match to ensure the absence of anti-social behaviour. If trouble makers are found to be associating themselves with Coleraine FC the club will act to censure those individuals. They simply are not welcome around our club.”

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