A police force has apologised for wrongly claiming weapons were found at a Premier League match.
Sussex Police issued the apology to both Crystal Palace and Brighton and Hove Albion football clubs – and their fans – after the allegations were made about the match at the Amex Stadium on November 28.
The next day, the force’s Chief Inspector Simon Nelson branded the behaviour of fans as a “return to the dark days of football” and said some had tried to enter the ground with knives and knuckledusters.
On Thursday an officer also tweeted about the weapons, the force said.
In a statement issued on Thursday afternoon, a force spokesman said: “The reference to weapons being found discarded at the stadium following the Brighton v Crystal Palace match on November 28 was based on information logged by our officers on the night and done so in good faith.
“Subsequently, it has been established that no such items were physically recovered at the stadium or in the city.
“We accept that this information was incorrect and the tweet published earlier today (December 7) by one of our officers was wrong.
“Sussex Police apologises to both clubs and their supporters.”
The force had earlier issued a press release in which Mr Nelson said never in his career had he seen “such concerted attempts to cause disorder and engage in violent behaviour” after claiming officers encountered masked men looking for trouble.
Five men and a teenage boy were arrested after the 0-0 draw.
Mr Nelson, who leads Sussex Police’s operations for football matches, said: “This was a return to the dark days of football and is not acceptable.
“This was the most challenging football-related disorder that I have ever experienced.
“I have been involved in football policing at all levels and have been a match commander for Albion matches for 12 years, but I have never come across such concerted attempts to cause disorder and engage in violent behaviour.”
He said groups of fans in masks – apparently linked to both teams – were “seeking confrontation” with each other and police outside the ground in Falmer, East Sussex, and at Brighton Railway Station.
He said a large group of people, believed to be without tickets, jumped the turnstiles and ran into the away supporters’ stand where fireworks were later set off.
He added: “We are aware a significant number of people attempted to enter the ground with pyrotechnics, knives and knuckledusters.”
He said the force would be reviewing its procedures for patrolling football matches and scanning CCTV footage with Metropolitan Police officers to track down the culprits of the disorder as a result.
The force said it would not be commenting further on the matter. Both clubs have been contacted by the Press Association.