Premier League and EFL launch crackdown on fan violence ahead of new season

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Pitch invaders will receive automatic club bans and face prosecution in crackdown on football violence ahead of the new season with stiffer penalties for setting off smoke bombs and pyro as well as for drug use, throwing objects and offensive chants

  • The FA, Premier League and EFL are leading crackdown on fan violence
  • It follows a number of high-profile incidents during the 2021-22 campaign
  • Some occurred during pitch invasions to celebrate promotion or safety 
  • Fans who invade the pitch now face automatic bans from their clubs
  • Use of flares and fireworks, plus drug use, will bring more severe penalties

Football supporters who invade the pitch will receive an automatic club ban and be reported to the police with a view to prosecution under a crackdown by the football authorities ahead of the new season.

Setting off smoke bombs or pyrotechnics, throwing objects, drug use and discriminatory behaviour will all be clamped down on in the joint initiative by the Football Association, Premier League, the EFL and the police.

It follows a number of high-profile incidents at matches in England last season, not least during pitch invasions to mark clubs securing promotion or avoiding relegation.

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira kicked out at an Everton fan who’d been goading him while filming the confrontation during a pitch invasion at Goodison Park to mark their Premier League survival.

Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp was assaulted by a Nottingham Forest fan during wild celebrations after they secured passage to the Championship play-off final.

A Leicester City fan ran onto the pitch and swung punches at Forest players celebrating a goal in their FA Cup tie at the City Ground in February.

Football supporters who invade the pitch – even when celebrating – face the prospect of an automatic club ban under a new crackdown on fan violence

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira kicked out at an Everton fan who’d invaded the pitch to mark their Premier League safety and goaded him

A Leicester fan ran onto the pitch and swung punches at celebrating Nottingham Forest players during their FA Cup tie at the City Ground in February

They were just three of a number of incidents amid a resurgence in football disorder.

While invading the pitch at a football match has been a criminal offence for 31 years, it typically goes without punishment during moments of celebration.

But the authorities have decided to crack down ahead of the 2022-23 campaign after celebrations at a number of grounds spilled over into acts of violence last season.

A statement read: ‘These acts are dangerous, illegal and have severe consequences. They have no place in football, or anywhere.

Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp was attacked by a pitch invader after play-off defeat

The use of smoke bombs and pyrotechnics will also come with a club ban from this season

‘From the start of Season 2022-23, all identified offenders will be reported by clubs to the police and prosecution could result in a permanent criminal record, which may affect their employment and education, and could result in a prison sentence.

‘The FA will also be enforcing a tougher charging and sanctioning policy for clubs, which will reinforce these measures.

‘Furthermore, anyone who enters the pitch and those identified carrying or using pyrotechnics or smoke bombs will now receive an automatic club ban.

Aston Villa pair Matty Cash and Lucas Digne were hit with a bottle thrown from an Everton section of the stadium during a match at Goodison Park in January this year

Earlier this season, Burnley’s Matt Lowton was hit by a Coke bottle at Leeds United

‘These bans could also be extended to accompanying parents or guardians of children who take part in these activities.’

The authorities will work alongside the UK Football Policing Unit and the Crown Prosecution Service to establish a new principle for cases relating to pyrotechnics or smoke bombs, as well as entering the pitch.

The statement added: ‘This will mean cooperating to achieve a prosecution in these cases will become the default response of the football authorities and criminal justice system, sending a clear and unambiguous message to all who break the law.’

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said in the statement: ‘The rise in anti-social behaviour that we saw in stadiums at the end of last season was entirely unacceptable and put people’s safety at risk.

‘Together, English football has introduced new measures and stronger sanctions to send out a clear message that we will not tolerate this type of illegal and dangerous behaviour.

‘It is the responsibility of everyone in the game, including governing bodies, clubs, players, coaches, and fans, to ensure that we all play our part in protecting our game and each other.’

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