With the new football season comes the question from banned fans “How can I get rid of my ban?” For those fans who are eligible for early termination of a football banning order it’s quite a straightforward process. If a court refuses to remove the ban, another application can’t be made for 6 months, so it is important to get it right first time. After two thirds of the ban has been served a fan can apply to terminate a football banning order imposed by the court under Sections 14a or 14b of the Football Spectators Act
The application to terminate will concentrate on the fan’s behaviour since the ban was imposed, so will look at things such as whether the fan has complied with the ban, has stayed away from football, has kept out of any other trouble, and in some cases has moved away from the influences which resulted in the fan being banned – for example a fan may have hung around with other banned fans and risk supporters at the time of the ban, but may not have socialised with them since receiving the ban.
The court will want to know whether the police support the early termination or at least have no objections to it. If the fan hasn’t come to the attention of the football intelligence officer since being banned it is unusual for the police to oppose the termination application. Character references from employers or teachers are also important.
In most cases where a fan contacts me about terminating a ban, if my advice is that they should apply, their ban is terminated. But that is only halff of the story as it is then important that the football intelligence officers and the football club are also notified that the ban had been terminated, otherwise a fan may find themselves refused entry at the turnstiles,
What can’t be guaranteed is that the football club will also remove any ban imposed. A football club ban can rarely be challenged in court, however if the court has removed the football banning order, a club will more likely be prepared to negotiate the end of a ban. Hence, if you are a fan who has served two thirds of their ban, this football season may not be out of bounds to you after all.
For more information on terminating a football banning order early, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
ATTEMPT TO TAKE PYRO INTO A PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY FOOTBALL MATCH AND ITS HIGHLY LIKELY THAT SOMEONE ELSE WILL BE IN YOUR SEAT FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON!
SEEN PYRO BEING USED AT A FOOTBALL MATCH? THINK IT LOOKS FUN?
There is no doubt about it, the use of pyro to some fans is exciting. Photos of smoke bombs and flares being used at European matches give the impression of a colourful and high adrenaline crowd of fans.
The pre-season excitement is kicking off, especially for fans who get the chance to attend stadiums and play teams they would not normally play. A Pre-season friendly is a ‘regulated’ football match and the law applies just as much for pre-season friendlies as it does for the main season matches. As far as policing is concerned, it doesn’t matter whether it is a friendly or a competitive match, the policing strategies are the same, and the risks that the fans face if they decide to take pyro to a friendly game are just as serious.
Whether or not the use of smoke grenades (or plumber’s smoke tabs), flares and fireworks gives the game a better atmosphere, they are banned from English football, and without a doubt the courts do not see that same colourful, high adrenaline atmosphere. The starting point for a court considering the sentence for someone who has attempted to enter a stadium with pyro is 3 months in prison. In many cases it is very difficult to persuade the courts to come down from this 3 month figure. Add onto this the fact that it is highly likely that a court will impose a football banning order for at least 3 years (as this is the minimum that a court can impose) and may go as high as 10 years, and a fan’s days of watching football anywhere but in their living room for at least the next 3 years are over. The prison record doesn’t look good to any employer, and any chance of coaching or refereeing even a local kids league is given the Red Card due to the fact the offence of possession of the smoke grenade and the prison sentence and the football banning order will all appear on a Criminal Records Bureau (now Banning and Disbarring Service) check.
Look again at the wording in italics above, a fan doesn’t have to let off a flare in the stadium to fall foul of the law, mere possession on entry is sufficient. The law doesn’t distinguish between smoke grenades, flares and fireworks, they are all treated with the same severity. Nor does it distinguish between the possession and letting off the pyro.
As a lawyer representing football fans, I have concerns about all fans being arrested for pyro possession and use but in particular the criminalisation of youths. Whether or not I agree with the law as it stands, until Parliament changes it, possession of pyro remains an offence. I have had queries from fans who have found that not only have they been banned, but their family members also banned. As a football club is a private entity they can do what they want, so if they decide to ban a whole family they can do so. Chelsea FC has banned fans for 10 years for the use of a smoke bomb at an away match, this was in addition to the 3 year football banning order the court imposed, and Crystal Palace FC wanted to ban a fan for 2 years despite the fact the court had not imposed a football banning order, and this was relating to use of a firecracker on the way to the stadium, not even in sight of the stadium, but the fan was wearing CPFC colours at the time he was seen letting off the firecracker.
Harsh as this sounds, in most cases there is very little I am able to do to persuade a Club to budge on their decision, and in my experience the Football League Clubs take a stronger approach on this than Premier League Clubs. One of the main reasons that the Club will impose a harsh penalty on the fan is that too much use of pryo and the Club will lose its away allocation or have it severely restricted, and this means that the Club may lose revenue due to the actions of a few fans. This is particularly so at Cup games where the lower Football League clubs get the opportunity to play higher Football League or even Premier League clubs, and receive the Gate fees. Hence the consequences of 2 minutes of smoke or colored flame can be very wide reaching for both the Club and other fans
For this reason, a pyro amnesty bin trial will be in place at York City FC v Sheffield Wednesday FC on 12th July 2014 at Bootham Crescent Stadium. York City Fans used pyro at a few away games last season and at least 1 incidence of pyro by Sheffield Wednesday fans was recorded by police in the 2012/13 season, so while pyro use was is not high with fans of these two clubs, the police will be on the look out for pyro and the stewards will be notified that they should be carrying out stringent searches of anyone entering the stadium, and should remove anyone who uses pyro in Bootham Crescent and hand them over to the police.
With the pyro bins outside there will be no excuse for anyone to have pyro inside the stadium, and anyone caught with pyro in the stadium is likely to be dealt with very harshly by the Club and courts as there was a means of disposing of it outside. Lets hope that these bins are a success and that it will help prevent this needless criminalisation and banning of fans.
Particularly if you are a parent or carer for a youth who attends football matches, please pass the message to them that pyro is illegal and the inside of a cell in a youth offending institution could be exactly where they are heading if caught with pyro…and that it not scaremongering or exaggeration…its reality.
For more information on the laws on pyro and other laws relating specifically to football see this leaflet Are you a footie fan? Do you know there are special laws relating to you? which I have prepared to alert fans, particularly young fans, to the law which affects them but which they are often don’t know about, as it doesn’t apply to any other sports events.