SOUTHAMPTON FC have been warned by the FA about the behaviour of fans at St Mary's Stadium - with police investigating a flare being thrown on to the pitch.

As a result, Saints have written to supporters in the Itchen North section of the ground about recent incidents which could force the club to shut part of the stadium.

In a letter to fans, the club's venue safety manager says three people have received long term bans after items being thrown and cases of 'incitement to commit disorder'.

At one recent match, a flare was thrown from the Itchen North on to the pitch, prompting a police investigation.

The letter warns that whoever was responsible could get a football banning order and a criminal record, adding that bringing a pyrotechnic into a football stadium is "a very serious crime and...a very dangerous thing to do".

"[The trouble] has reached a level and seriousness that could result in our having to close several of the blocks in the area," it adds.

Saints add that they are well aware that the vast majority of fans are not guilty of any poor behaviour, but have sent the letter to all fans sitting in the Itchen North area, as the matter could result in a heavy fine for the club or even sections of the ground being closed.

A flare was thrown on to the pitch during the recent 2-0 win over Bournemouth, after Saints went ahead in the match.

Daily Echo: The flare is removed from the pitch

The letter ends: "We are proud of the reputation of our supporters, and have long been known to be amongst the  best and the safest in the stands. We hope you will join with us in working to retain that reputation and to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all visitors, keeping the voice of the voice of the Itchen North where it belongs."

The Itchen North section of St Mary's is adjacent to the away fans, and covers blocks one to four of the stadium.