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Crocodile crowd control

uefa.com looks on the bright side of life. Today, crocodiles keeping unruly fans at bay in Romania.

Getting into the seasonal spirit, uefa.com looks on the bright side of life with two weeks of festive fun.

By Jonathan Wilson

Crowd control is a serious issue, but rarely has it created such as stir as in Nicolae Balcescu, a village about seven miles from the small Romanian town of Rimnicu Vilcea.

Expulsion threat 
Concerned by rising incidents of crowd violence - despite attendances rarely pushing above 100 - the Vilcea County Football Association sent out warnings to clubs, informing them they could be expelled from the league if they were considered not to have taken sufficient measures against pitch invasions.

Fever ditch 
Alexandru Cringus, Communist vice-mayor of Nicolae Balcescu and owner of FC Steaua, a fourth division side, can reasonably expect to escape censure after coming up with the most unique crowd control system in the world. First of all, he built ditches around the pitch - and then was struck by real inspiration.

Duck and cover 
"I set my men to dig the moat, and filled it with water," he said. "Now you will only see ducks swimming there, but in the spring everybody will get a real shock. I had an idea, which is maybe crazy, but I think it will help us.

Getting snappy 
"I was in Rimnicu Vilcea when I saw a crocodile in a pet shop. I asked how much it cost, and when I found out they are only €470, I went straight to local businesses to sponsor them. As soon as it is warm enough, I will introduce them to the ditches. No fan will be brave enough to jump across the ditch. I don't think we'll have any trouble with pitch invasions now."

Load of balls 
Steaua have long been a source of interest to the Romanian media. They have no clubhouse, but change in the bar owned by Cringus, where tactics are routinely explained using balls on a snooker table.

Show of faith 
Much of their fame owes to their oldest fan, the 83-year-old local priest, Ionel Teodorescu, who doubles as a vet. He is famous for his habit of abbreviating Sunday services when Steaua are at home. Indeed, he has missed just one game this term, and that after he was called away at half-time to administer to an ailing pig.

Feeling deflated 
Divine aid or not, though, Steaua have a ruthless streak. Earlier this season they were awarded an away match by default after their opponents failed to produce a matchball. Steaua had two balls with them, but, recognising the rules, burst both to guarantee the three points. They may, of course, run into similar problems themselves in the spring; it has yet to be revealed how the club intend to retrieve balls kicked into the moat.