Police sent out a strong message to 'football fans' looking to cause trouble at matches as they carried out dawn raids in Bolton and Wigan this morning.

The action follows an investigation into the disorder that followed the Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic match on August 19, where violent scenes involving dozens of people played out in Westhoughton town centre.

This morning 12 people were arrested in a series of  coordinated raids, including in Little Lever.

Around 50 officers from Greater Manchester Police took part in the operation as more than a dozen addresses were targeted.

The Bolton News: Operation Alternator

The 12 men aged between 16 and 58 are now being questioned after being arrested on suspicion of violent disorder as part of Operation Alternator and are being questioned in custody.

There were seven arrests in Bolton, and five in Wigan.

Detective inspector Danny O’Neil said: “This is important because people who go to the games go to watch the football and those who want to go shopping Westhoughton are there to shop so vast majority of people do not go to either of those things expecting thuggery to take over.

The Bolton News: Operation Alternator

“The disorder took up a lot of GMP resources on the day, resources that should have been deployed elsewhere, impacting our ability to respond to other emergency incidents."

It is understood the football fans were in pubs on the day of the match but had been kicked out and filed onto the street where the rival fans were also waiting.

A fight was started, seemingly planned, and one innocent bystander was hospitalised in the midst of the violence.

Detective Superintendent O’Neil said: "This was pre-planned disorder and innocent people were caught up in the violence.

The Bolton News: Dawn raids

"There is no place for this type of thuggery - people go to football matches to watch football, not to fight and cause trouble, and we want to ensure people can attend matches safely.

“The people involved in this do not care who they punch, kick and stamp on. It is extreme level of violence used so the public need to feel reassured.”

The investigation into the violence is still ongoing with a further two men arrested in August released on bail pending further enquiries.

Detective Inspector Tony Lunt, of Bolton CID, said: “The violence that took place in August will not be tolerated, which is why we have taken strong action today.

“Hours of officers’ body worn footage and CCTV footage from the incident have been reviewed as part of the investigation, which is still very much ongoing.

“We are still working to identify other people who took part in the violence that day so would ask anyone with any information should contact police.

“We will also be seeking football banning orders for anyone convicted of taking part in the violence.”

Anyone with information, dashcam footage or who was in the area at the time should contact police on 0161 856 5757 quoting log 2621-19/08/2023.

Information can also be reported via www.gmp.police.uk or 101, or shared anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. In an emergency, always dial 999.