The overwhelming majority of match-day experiences pass without incident – the all-time low arrest rate at football testifies to that – but occasionally things do go wrong, even if the fan isn’t always in the wrong.
If that happens and you feel you’ve been treated unfairly by a club’s employees or the police we’re here to offer advice and support. Over the years we have given support to thousands of fans, and successfully challenged the misuse of power on many, many occasions.
We have excellent contacts with the country’s best and most experienced solicitors in relation to fans, football, and the law.
“Don’t expect and accept – if you’ve been on the wrong end of shabby treatment, get in touch,” Amanda Jacks – FSA caseworker
However, we don’t just offer help to individual fans, we also try to give a little context and balance, when the media or authorities get carried away.
A good example of this is on pitch incursions, which became a hot topic after one high-profile moron invaded the pitch to assault Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish during their visit to St Andrew’s in March 2018.
Despite this particular idiot being arrested and receiving a custodial sentence within 48 hours, the national media went into overdrive about the potential for disorder and a return to the ‘bad old days’. Pundits were lining up to deliver their hot takes – one ex-pro even suggesting there should be armed police in the stands.
The hysteria was ramped up even further the following weekend when a small number of Newcastle United fans, after a last minute equaliser at Dean Court, spilled over the shin-high advertising hoardings onto the perimeter of the pitch at Bournemouth. Cue more calls for clampdowns on This Sort of Thing.
A number of Newcastle fans who were unlucky enough to be pushed over the small barrier onto the pitch (and subsequently whisked away by the authorities) got in touch with us for advice and we put them in touch with Football Law Associates who represented them in court. The fact that the fans left court without banning orders shows once again the importance of legal representation.
Across the media we argued that dragging fans through the courts for celebratory pitch incursions was not in the public interest. The authorities should be able to use their discretion, and we want to see fans dealt with in a more proportionate manner.
Independent Advisory Groups (IAGs)
IAGs have also been a growth area of work over the past season or two. IAGs are groups of supporter representatives who act as critical but constructive observers of policing operations around football matches at your clubs – providing direct feedback to police on their match-day activities.
We believe that police should consider the views of the largest group of stakeholders in football – the fans – and engage with the feedback they provide. IAGs have already made a positive impact around the country, in particular with West Midlands Police and the Met Police in London. If your fan group is interested in that work we’d like to hear from you.
Contact the FSA’s caseworker Amanda Jacks:
Thanks to PA Sport for the image used.