FA to deploy 'sprinting stewards' as fears Just Stop Oil protestors may ruin Wembley final

The Football Association are set to ramp up security measures to prevent Just Stop Oil protestors from disrupting the FA Cup final between Manchester City and Manchester United on Saturday. The FA are planning to deploy specialised 'sprinting stewards' in addition to normal security at Wembley for the showpiece event between the two Manchester clubs, as fears grow there could be another high-profile protest staged by activists.

Security chiefs are set to take special measures to prevent protestors from entering the pitch after witnessing a large-scale demonstration in the Gallagher Premiership rugby union final between Saracens and Sale Sharks.

Two men have been charged after being detained for entering the pitch and throwing an orange powder paint on the grass and near the players during the game.

The FA are hoping to prevent a similar occurrence by bringing in extra security staff who have been specially trained to deal with pitch invaders to limit the impact of any planned protest, report the Daily Mail.

The so-lcalled 'sprinting stewards' - also referred to as 'pitch runners' - have been given training to help them deal with people who encroach onto the pitch during sport matches.

They either wear football boots or high-tech footwear to give them optimal grip on slippery playing surfaces, enhancing their speed against the protestors who may be bare-footed or wearing normal shoes.

It is unclear how many of the unique stewards will be in attendance at Wembley for the Saturday afternoon fixture, but they will be tasked with keeping a close eye on the crowd for any mischief makers.

The report claims that FA chiefs have been wary about the prospect of encroachment from fans onto the pitch and this has played 'a major part' in their revised plans for the all-Manchester final at Wembley.

And Just Stop Oil's statement, vowing to continue their disruption of UK sport until the Government alter their view on fossil fuel legislation, has only exacerbated the situation.

Several pitch invasions have occurred in the Premier League and further down the EFL pyramid in recent weeks, although none of the three play-off finals at Wembley last weekend resulted in fans entering the pitch.

But the FA are planning to protect against the worst, particularly as there has already been anger from both sets of fans over travelling to London despite half-term train strikes giving supporters a dilemma about how to travel home on Saturday.

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