Watching Football on TV Can Still Get You a Football Banning Order!

Just three days into Euro 2012, and Sussex Police have already obtained a banning order for 3 years against someone in England, and Avon and Somerset Police have sent out warnings that they will be applying for banning orders against those who they believe are acting in a disorderly manner in a public place and who have been watching the Euro 2012 matches on tv.

‘Crackdown on Football Yobs and Hooligans’ is a common phrase coming from the Police during Euro 2012. In many cases, these so called ‘yobs’ or ‘hooligans’ have not been convicted of a crime, nor have they even attended a football match, but are the subject of a Football Banning Order purely because the police do not like their behaviour. With the Euro 2012 Championships underway, now is the time to be reminded of the long term effects and restrictions that a Football Banning Order can have on an individual.

During the 2008 Euro Championships and 2010 World Cup, a number of football fans were given banning orders after being convicted of minor public order offences, after drinking and watching a football match earlier in the evening in a town centre pub. In an extreme case, a fight outside a take-away involving two men wearing England shirts was labelled as football related and both were banned when the fight was actually over a girlfriend, and neither of them had even watched the Match!

Many Local Authorities are placing warning advertisements that alcohol related disorder in a public place, during or after watching a Euro 2012 football match may result in an application for a Football Banning Order.

The Football Banning Order itself is not a criminal conviction – however its impact can be more severe on a person’s life than a criminal conviction.

  • The Order usually restricts a person from attending football matches for three years, but can go much further, such as preventing them from entering a town centre for three hours either side of a football match being played in the area, or even a local team match being shown on television in a town centre pub.
  • For the whole Euro 2012 tournament, the 3500 people in England and Wales who are subject to a Football Banning Order have to surrender their passport to the police, and are forbidden from travelling overseas, even if they were intending to travel for a family holiday and not to Poland or the Ukraine.
  • A banning order will show up on a potential employer’s Criminal Records Bureau check, and some companies dismiss an employee who receives a ban.

How can a Football Banning Order be avoided? The best way is to ensure that you are not involved in any kind of disorder in public which can be argued to be football related. However, if you do end up with a summons from the police, or in court on a criminal charge, don’t panic.

If the application is following a criminal conviction, obtain legal representation for the criminal charges, but make sure it is from someone who knows their stuff on football banning orders.  If the application is to be made via summons, the police will send a summons to your home, followed shortly afterwards by a letter threatening costs up to £5000 if you decide to oppose the application. The reality is that, even if the police are successful in obtaining a Football Banning Order the costs are usually much less. The long term cost to you by accepting the Football Banning Order may be much more than £5000, especially if it results in dismissal from employment or prevents you from getting a job.

The best course of action is to contact the Football Supporters Federation or a lawyer specialising in Football Banning Orders and seek advice. The earlier you seek advice, the better. Do not contact the police to discuss the situation, even with the best intentions, you may provide them with information the police can use against you at any future hearing.

Have an enjoyable Euro 2012 without it being memorable for the wrong reasons.

About gurdena

Social Justice Barrister, interested in all things contentious & anything criminal justice related including prisoners and complaints against the police. Specialising in criminal law - mainly sex, violence, and football fans (not necessarily all 3 at the same time!). Represents people facing death penalty in the USA. Associate Member at Drystone Chambers

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