With an increase in the number of pitch invasions last season, England’s Premier League and Football League on Monday announced new tougher sanctions for pitch invasions and the use of smoke bombs and pyrotechnics. The leagues have said that these offenders can face prosecution which can result in a permanent criminal record. They also announced that spectators carrying bombs and pyrotechnics will face club bans.
There was a steep rise in the number of pitch invasions that took place in the last season of these football leagues in England. Several altercations also took place on the field, including one involving Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira, while Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp was attacked by a fan after a playoff defeat at Nottingham Forest. The use of smoke bombs and pyrotechnics also became normal, demanding a stricter policy on such actions.
Therefore, the leagues have announced new sanctions, in order to tackle these persistent issues. “The FA, Premier League and EFL are together introducing new measures and stronger sanctions across the game to tackle the increased anti-social and criminal behaviours recently seen within football grounds and underline the importance of a safe matchday environment,” said Premier League in its statement on Monday.
“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.
“Furthermore, anyone who enters the pitch and those identified carrying or using pyrotechnics or smoke bombs will now receive an automatic club ban. These bans could also be extended to accompanying parents or guardians of children who take part in these activities.”
The football leagues’ decision to impose new sanctions is backed by the Football Supporters Association and will be effective from the start of the new season. The Premier League also confirmed that other measures will also be implemented along with these sanctions. Enhanced search regimes, increased use of sniffer dogs at grounds, and working with social media platforms to establish new ways of quicker removal of fan-generated videos of illegal behaviour at football matches will be other ways in which the leagues look to tackle these issues.