WANDERERS will issue bans to anyone found guilty of breaking into the stadium and fighting after the 2-1 defeat to Exeter City.

The club says it will take the strongest possible action against a small minority at the centre of disorderly scenes on Saturday evening.

Closed-circuit TV footage has been passed on by the club to Greater Manchester Police, who also made a small number of arrests after trouble broke out at around 5pm.

The club has confirmed to The Bolton News that banning orders will be issued to people identified and found guilty and that they will do everything in their power to aid the police with their investigations.

Wanderers issued a plea to fans not to gather outside the stadium for the game despite the fact a victory on the pitch would have guaranteed promotion to League One.

And though the vast majority who ignored the request behaved well and maintained social distance, the unpleasant scenes which have been circulating on social media over the last 24 hours may well have done major damage to the club’s chances of getting supporters back into the stadium in maximum numbers next season.

A small number of individuals broke through a locked exit door to the right of the main reception and made their way into the concourses, releasing pyrotechnics and confronting members of the media who were working at the game.

The club has put on record its thanks to supporters who aided stewards in preventing more people from getting through the door, GMP moved in quickly when several fights broke out among the lingering crowd, with the numbers quickly dispersed.

A statement from the club said: “A small number of arrests were made at the scene and the club is now cooperating fully with GMP to investigate any criminal activity that took place.

“High quality CCTV footage exists and will be utilised to the maximum extent possible to ensure the perpetrators can be identified and appropriate action is taken. In recent weeks the club has engaged with the local authority, Public Health England and other agencies to discuss measures to safely reintroduce supporters to the University of Bolton Stadium when restrictions are eased.

“The events of yesterday, off the park, may already have harmed our efforts to secure the support of our event planning partners for the reintroduction of supporters.”

Wanderers have now pleaded with fans not to travel to the final game of the season at Crawley to ensure no further problems can occur.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to represent a serious risk to public health and gatherings of more than six people outdoors are still not permitted. The safety of our colleagues and community remains our top priority and the club therefore urges supporters not to travel to Crawley next Saturday and not to gather in large groups anywhere.

“We wish to acknowledge that the vast majority of those who gathered yesterday were not involved in any violence or disorder.”

Wanderers boss Ian Evatt added his voice to the club’s effort to keep fans from travelling to West Sussex, or once again congregating outside the stadium.

“Myself, my staff and the players are fully focussed on next Saturday’s game where we will be doing everything to ensure that our season ends in success,” he said.

“While we understand that our fans want to show their support for us in person, it is important that everybody listens and understands the strong messaging from the club and authorities.

“We all know how frustrating it has been for you not being able to watch us this season, but we ask that you please do not travel to Crawley next Saturday or gather in large crowds at the University of Bolton Stadium or anywhere else.”

Bolton Wanderers chairman Sharon Brittan described Saturday evening’s scenes as “very disappointing” and thanked those who adhered to the club’s request.

“It’s important to note that only a very small minority of people were involved in the disorder after the game on Saturday,” she said. “This was very disappointing as it could potentially have an adverse effect on our ability to welcome back supporters once restrictions are eased.

“I would like to thank those supporters who assisted our stewards and helped to collect and dispose of the debris and litter that was left behind.

“We are desperate to welcome you back to the stadium, so please help us and follow the instructions not to travel or gather in large numbers.”

“We wish to reiterate that the club completely condemns any violent and anti-social behaviour whatsoever. and we will now focus on working with GMP and assisting them with their investigations into the serious incidents of disorder that look place.”