Real Betis Balompié will be forced to play two major games on neutral territory next season.
The club have fallen foul of the Spanish football league disciplinary committee (CEDD) after crowd violence marred their derby fixture against Sevilla FC in last season's Primera División campaign.
The Estadio Benito Villamarín will now be closed for Betis's first two games of the 2002/03 season which will see the club's supporters denied the opportunity to watch their side face both Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona on home territory . The club would have predicted sell-out crowds and the club has raised stern objections to the CEDD's actions in a press statement released today.
"We do believe that the necessary investigation has been carried out, (but) we doubt whether even the committee understands its decision," Real Betis said in a statement today. "We are once again facing a decision that has not been dictated by justice, but by political opportunism."
Betis say they will lodge an appeal but if that fails the club will almost certainly play the two games in Seville's Olympic stadium. "It will make it much harder to play without the warmth of our fans," said coach Victor Fernandez.