The following article was published by the FSA on the 25th July 2022 https://thefsa.org.uk
At the end of last season pitch incursions were all over our screens, occurring in the Premier League, EFL play-offs and in the National League. On a number of occasions we saw managers or players antagonised, or even assaulted, as in the awful case of Billy Sharp.
This week we’ve joined up with the leagues and players to, once again, make clear our view on this subject – the stands are for supporters and the pitch is for the players.
Fans should not enter the field of play and there are many good reasons for that…
1. It’s illegal and punishments can be very severeWe know that many thousands of fans over the years have entered the field of play with nothing but good intentions in a moment of celebration. But in the eyes of the law it doesn’t matter – it’s illegal and the law doesn’t discriminate.
You could get a very long club ban, a criminal record and a Football Banning Order (FBO).
There’s an important distinction to be made between clubs bans and FBOs too. The former is, in effect, a private business banning you from their premises. A total waste of a season ticket, and you’ll not see your team in person for a while, but that’s more or less it.
FBOs are very serious and can be imposed by a court following conviction. If you get an FBO you may have to periodically surrender your passport on matchdays and be banned from your team’s city centre. Imagine not being able to go shopping on a Saturday or abroad for a holiday because you once ran onto the pitch? It’s a very real possibility.
When individual supporters are charged with pitch incursions we often pick up the pieces, explaining to fans that yes, it is against the law, and yes, it will affect your employment and educational opportunities.
It’s also worth noting that, while there might have been a tradition of celebratory incursions in decades past, many of those took place before it was a criminal offence to enter the pitch.
2. It’s not fair on playersAs the saying goes, football without fans is nothing, but football without players ain’t up to much either – we have to listen to their voices too.
We’ve talked to the PFA and they understand that 99.99% of fans have nothing but good intentions but players are understandably worried about that one idiot getting to them.
If hundreds, or even thousands of fans, flood onto the pitch all it takes is for one moron to cause problems for everyone. You might run on to celebrate but can you guarantee every single person who jumps on the pitch has good intentions? No.
Billy Sharp’s attacker at the City Ground was rightly jailed, but even at the lesser end of incidents, individuals or small groups surrounding and mocking the opposition on the pitch isn’t right. Do it from the stands, that’s your choice, but the pitch isn’t the place for it.
Losing a play-off semi-final, or relegation decider, can be a career defining moment and the last thing a player wants is to have an opposition fan rubbing salt in the wound. Players and managers have a fundamental right to leave the pitch without being attacked or antagonised.
3. Wider consequencesThere’s an unwritten behavioural pact that we all benefit from – stay off the pitch and crowd management restrictions will be much lighter touch. If that pact breaks down football will be worse for us all as rules will tighten.
We’ve met with the authorities on this – government, police, football leagues – and there is no doubt in our mind that there will be future consequences if we see a repeat of last season’s incursions. It’s not an empty threat.
The Safety Advisory Group at York City last season cut capacity from 8,500 to 7,500 following a pitch incursion. That’s a 12% capacity reduction. Replicate that in a larger stadium and huge numbers could be excluded from going to the match.
Other measures we’ve heard mooted relate to alcohol sales around grounds or netting laid out across the first few rows. Both are possible outcomes which make football worse. And that’s before you even get to ‘nuclear’ options like full stadium closures or points deductions.
Not every fan will agree with our position on this issue but if they don’t take notice and enter the field of play they are responsible for the negative consequences which follow. And sadly, the majority of fans in the stands would suffer from the actions of a minority on the pitch.
Do not be the supporter whose action punishes your fellow fans.
The 2022/2023 season kicked off against MK Dons on the 30th July at the Abbey Stadium in the EFL League 1
Cambridge United supporters can you see yourself in the photos included the slideshow below
Simon King took the photographs
MK Dons supporters photos can be seen here
We offer our free ‘Audio For All’ service to both home and visiting supporters. Many people can benefit from this service, including those with a visual impairment, additional sensory needs, and the elderly. Our audio-descriptive commentary at the Abbey Stadium aims to be inclusive to all.
Volunteer fans of Cambridge United Football Club provide this free service. They have been expertly trained and are into their tenth season of providing a highly professional, neutral and entertaining match description.
The service is broadcast to all parts of the stadium. Service users with a visual impairment must have a personal assistant with them to comply with ground regulations.
Advance pre-booking for ‘Audio for All’ is required.
Matchday Admission cost is at the concessionary rate, and admission is free for personal assistants.
We recommend that anyone wanting to use the service speaks to a ticket office member of staff personally, rather than book tickets online. This is the only way to guarantee the best help in getting the right location within the stadium, ticket price, and the free ticket for a personal assistant.
The ‘Audio For All’ service should be pre-booked in advance of the match by contacting Nick Parker on 07929 589925, or email: email@example.com
Alternatively, you can contact us via the form below
Please note- The kits use a single earpiece. If you would like to use your own headset most standard headphones will fit the units socket
If you need transport to the Abbey Stadium please click here for information about booking a taxi or alternative transport to the Abbey Stadium on match and non match days click here
Book your seat on the Away Travel Coach to Oxford Utd on Sat 6th August via the link below
Price per seat is £20.
The coach departs from The Isle of Ely Pub in Ely at 10.15am Abbey Stadium at 11.00am
Any questions email firstname.lastname@example.org #camUTD
"Turn left at the lights, follow the path, 4th bridge down!" , a phrase commonly given to direct away fans to the South Stand.
Having been an Abbey Helper since 2020 (two games before lockdown) last season was my first full season and found the experience very enjoyable.. Apart from directing fans off the bus to the away end , the main role is be the first contact fans (home and away) have upon arrival at the Abbey Stadium, so is good to make a first impression. So a smile and a welcome always goes down well. And other than asking for directions to the South Stand (away fans) or the main stand (home fans, normally first timers) the most common question is where's the pub! However as the main point is to get the fans in the ground, "it's the old turn left..."
I feel the best bit of the job is meeting the fans, both home and away. As in someway you are representing the club. Most are friendly and approachable, some more than others.
So an enjoyable experience and worth recommending, if you don't mind missing the first few minutes of the match! (Think Lincoln were already 2 up by the time I got to my place in the Habbin!)
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE A ABBEY HELPER CONTACT email@example.com