Detectives hunting troublemakers who sparked violence during last month's FA Cup clash between Birmingham City and Stoke City arrested 11 men yesterday.

Staffordshire Police said the arrests marked the start of an operation in which more than 40 suspects would be questioned in connection with the racist chanting inside Stoke's Britannia Stadium and disorder outside the ground on February 19.

The force published photo-graphs of 17 men they wanted to speak to after video recordings of fans captured during and after the FA Cup fifth round match were reviewed by the Football Intelligence Unit.

Detective Sergeant Steve Parker, who is leading the investigation, said yesterday's arrests were made across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire and that a large number of further suspects had made plans to attend prearranged interviews with investigators.

Det Sgt Parker said: "This has been the largest football disorder inquiry in Staffordshire for many years, and the small investigative team has worked tirelessly to prepare over 40 packages of evidence for the interview teams.

"These arrests are just the start of this stage of the investigation and we have made arrangements with a number of people to present themselves to police at prearranged times over the next few days.

"Staffordshire Police, working with Stoke City FC, has made great strides in driving those who involve themselves in disorder away from the club.

"The events in February were a setback which makes us even more determined to continue this work and to ensure the true supporters have a safe atmosphere in which to support their club."