Saturday 16 March 2019

Entering the field of play in Football. Is it illegal?

We all saw what happened last weekend both at Arsenal and at Birmingham with spectators deciding to enter the field of play.

Over the years I have had to deal with spectators entering the field of play on a number of occasions.  Without a moments hesitation that person has to be removed from the stadium.  Sometimes though they manage to get back into the stands and there fellow supporters will try to actively stop you getting to that person and ejecting them.

Where you have the benefit of CCTV you can track an individual and seek to eject them later.  Alternatively, if you have the resources and it is safe to do so you can go into the stand and eject them from the stand.

Where it is a Policed game you can hand the individual to the Police there and then for them to take action.  If it is a Police free game then you may want to either try to obtain details of the individual or at least capture a photograph of the person to enable the Police to take retrospective action.

What annoyed me the most last weekend though was listening to football pundits saying that entering the field of play should be illegal.  It already is!!

As you can see from the above it is an offence under the Football (Offences) Act 1991 and yes even if you don't make it to the grass but enter any area adjacent to the grass you still commit the same offence.

If you are found guilty (or plead guilty) then the punishment you can expect is a fine of up to £1,000.00.  You may also find that you are subject to a Football Banning Order.  This can be in place for anything from three years to five years.

A banning order will mean that you are required to surrender your passport when asked by the enforcing authority and then report to a Police station during any control period.

A control period is likely to be anytime a high profile event such as the World Cup is on but is not restricted to this. 

You could also find that you are forbidden from coming within a certain distance of a named stadium from two hours before to two hours after an event or from using the rail network without the prior approval of the British Transport Police.

There may be further restrictions imposed as well.

On top of the above you may find that you receive a club ban as well.  This including the length of any such ban is completely at the sole discretion of the club. 

You may also find that your club, the club that you love may end up facing a FA charge based on your actions.  The FA may decide to fine your club, force them to play behind closed doors or deduct points as punishment.  This in itself could open up a whole number of issues and potentially could cost the club either a league title or may be the difference between the club staying up or being relegated.

I'm not going to dwell on the above any further or to debate the fairness of the club facing the above sanctions as that in itself could be a separate blog and is not in keeping with what I want this blog to be about.

I will however bring this blog to a close by answering the question posed at the beginning.  Yes, it is.

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