Club backs Premier League, Football League and FA campaign
The Football League, The Premier League and The FA is running a supporter education campaign on the danger of pyrotechnics at football grounds, following research among fans that they would like more knowledge on how to address it.
To help better inform fans who are not aware, clubs throughout the Premier League, Football League and the Football Conference are supporting a campaign on the dangers on pyrotechnics by running adverts in their grounds and on club media, such as programmes and websites.
The campaign, which features posters parodying football chants, also has an online presence: www.facepyrofacts.co.uk
. There are real-life examples of how pyrotechnics are not, as pyro users attest, ‘innocent fun’, but can have serious repercussions.
Among the facts revealed in the advertising are that it is illegal to enter a football ground with a pyro and that supporters risk jail and banning orders even for being in possession of one.
Flares are used for marine distress and are designed not to be extinguished easily or quickly. They contain chemicals and burn at temperatures of 1600°C, the melting point of steel. Smoke bombs are mainly used recreationally in paintballing and war games, but these also burn at high temperatures and are designed to be used in wide open spaces. They are dangerous for those with asthma or breathing difficulties and can cause panic in a tightly packed crowd. They are not designed for use in confined spaces and it is illegal to enter a football stadium with one and set it off.
The use of pyrotechnics is a relatively new phenomenon in English football, with the trend imported from Europe where the issue is much more prevalent. It is a rising issue: in the 2010/11 season there were just eight incidents across the Premier League, Football League and Football Conference and the domestic cup competitions. In 2011/12 this rose to 72 and last season it jumped to 172 incidents. During the 2013/14 season (up to the end of October 2013) there have been 96 incidents.
It is not uncommon for ‘mules’ to bring the pyrotechnics into a ground on behalf of others. In one incident, an eight year-old child came into the ground with pyrotechnics in his rucksack and was then seen passing them to members of an adult group who let them off inside the ground.
When asked about the restrictions on pyrotechnics at football grounds, the majority of fans (82%) know it is illegal to go to a stadium with flares or smoke bombs. However, over half (53%) incorrectly believe that they are legal in most European football grounds.
Andrea Brown, The Football League’s Head of Customer Services, said: “There really is no need for anyone to take pyrotechnics to a football match as they put fellow fans at risk of injury. Supporters who do so are acting illegally and risk being banned from professional football and sent to prison.”
Policing Minister Damian Green said: “Football fans might see images of football grounds in other parts of Europe full of smoke and light caused by pyrotechnic devices and think that they create a good atmosphere — but they do not. Flares are very dangerous and can cause severe injuries. We are very lucky that no one has been seriously injured or killed by a flare here for a long time.
“This campaign clearly sets out the dangers of flares and smoke bombs. I want to see the courts taking this problem seriously and dealing in the strongest way possible with fans who still illegally smuggle pyrotechnics into football grounds.”
Amanda Jacks, Caseworker at The Football Supporters' Federation said: "Whether it's down to concerns around injury, or issues with smoke blocking their view, this survey indicates that a clear majority of fans oppose the use of pyro inside stadiums. This tallies with anecdotal feedback from members.
“Despite this its use does seem to have been on the rise lately, particularly among those fans who see it as a way to improve the atmosphere. However, we would strongly advise against supporters taking flares or smoke bombs into stadiums.
“Putting aside arguments over rights and wrongs the simple fact is it's against the law and could be an inadvertent danger to other fans. Use pyro in stadiums and there's a good chance you'll be caught, get a criminal record, and long-term football banning order. You might even go to jail.”
Huddersfield Town’s Operations Director Ann Hough said:
“We are working with the authorities to make Huddersfield Town fans aware of the dangers of pyrotechnics and the harm that they can cause to other supporters.
“Pyrotechnics can be dangerous and supporters who bring them into the Stadium are doing so illegally and can face lengthy bans, and even a jail sentence.
“We want fans to be able to support the team in a safe environment and we will do all we can to eradicate these from our Stadium.”