Football disorder in England and Wales reaches eight-year high – Home Office

Premier League managers talking during the 2021-22 season on pitch invasions and fan violence
Premier League managers talking during the 2021-22 season on pitch invasions and fan violence

Arrests and reported incidents of disorder at football matches in England and Wales last season were at their highest level for eight years.

There were 2,198 football-related arrests, the highest number since the 2013-14 season, according to Home Office figures.

The 2021-22 campaign saw the return of capacity crowds after a year of Covid-19 restrictions.

Last season’s disorder included players being approached after pitch invasions.

fan was jailed after running on to a pitch and headbutting Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp at the end of Nottingham Forest’s play-off match against the Blades.

A Manchester City fan who ran onto the pitch and taunted Aston Villa keeper Robin Olsen on the final day of the season at Etihad Stadium received a four-year football banning order.

More reported incidents and more arrests – key stats

  • Incidents were reported at more than half of all matches (53%) – 1,609 of the 3,019 matches played
  • In 2018-19 – the last full season before Covid-19 restrictions – there were reported incidents at 1,007 matches, equivalent to one-third of the games played
  • It means reported incidents were up by 60% last season compared with 2018-19
  • There were 441 pitch invasions reported last season – up by 127% on 2018-19
  • Football-related arrests were up 59% – the highest number of arrests since 2,273 were made in 2013-14
  • 516 new banning orders were issued
  • Top three clubs for new banning orders – Millwall (33), Leicester City (28) and Everton (26)
  • The most reported types of incidents were pyrotechnics (729 matches where incidents were reported), throwing missiles (561) and public order or anti-social behaviour incidents involving youth supporters (444).

‘[Fan behaviour] has definitely got worse’

It follows recent comments by England internationals Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier, who both say there is an issue with fan behaviour at football.

Tottenham’s Dier says he feels “too uncomfortable” for his family to attend away matches, while Liverpool captain Henderson says his family’s experiences could “put them off going to future games”.

“[Fan behaviour] has definitely got worse,” Dier said.

“For me it is a serious problem. I had some family and friends at the Chelsea away game with Tottenham and they had problems.

“I wanted to emphasise it was both sets of fans – I am not saying it is Chelsea fans or Tottenham fans, it is football fans in general.”

Henderson added: “My family and friends have had a couple of experiences over the last couple of years, which has really shocked them and probably put them off going to future games.

“When you see scenes like you have in the Euros final, in the Champions League final, then they don’t really want to go and put themselves in that situation again.

“My wife and kids had to try and get in a side door (at Wembley) which they wouldn’t let them in at the beginning. And they were trapped.”

Football Policing Lead chief constable Mark Roberts says disorder is a “problem” that has not gone away from any level of the professional football pyramid.

“Following constructive talks with the Premier League, English Football League and Football Association we are keen to support our partners in delivering their proposals – which include the introduction of stadium bans for people who enter the pitch, as well as those who use pyrotechnics,” said Roberts.

“We are also pleased that the Government is adding Class A drugs offences to the banning order legislation. This will provide police with another option to tackle criminal and anti-social behaviour by those who are under the influence of drugs.”

Minister for the Home Office Jeremy Quin added: “The increase in football-related arrests shows that police are taking firm action to stop disorder and preserve the enjoyment of the game for fans and families which I wholeheartedly support.”

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