Wigan Athletic supporters pick up very few banning orders

Well behaved Latics fans had fewer than five banning orders last season - although it should be remembered that many games were played behind closed doors.

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 10:19 am
Updated Friday, 22nd October 2021, 10:20 am
Police have had comparatively little to do at Latics home games

Hundreds of new football banning orders were handed out to supporters across England and Wales in 2020-21, despite the majority of matches being played behind closed doors or at limited capacity.

Home Office figures show one of those was given to a Wigan fan.

It meant three bans were in place among supporters of the club as of August 1.

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Handed down by courts to prevent violence or disorder connected with football matches, banning orders stop people attending regulated matches and are issued following a conviction for a football-related offence or following complaints from the police or Crown Prosecution Service.

At the beginning of August, there were 1,359 in force across the top five English divisions.

There were also 116 arrests related to football nationally during the 2020-21 season, down from 1,089 the year before. None of them involved Wigan fans.

Most of the arrests across England and Wales last season – 96 – were linked to Euro 2020 matches, with fans most likely to have been apprehended over violent or public disorder and alcohol or drug related offences.

On Monday, England was given a one-match stadium ban following unrest at Wembley Stadium during the Euro 2020 final, with the Football Association fined for the “lack of order and discipline inside and around the stadium” concerning the game.

Chief Constable Mark Roberts, football policing lead at the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said anyone who commits an offence at a football ground could expect to face the consequences of their actions.

He added: “Everyone saw the appalling scenes during the Euros and there have been concerning levels of disorder at football in recent years including assaults on stewards and numerous hate crimes.

“This behaviour will not be tolerated and is not something that the real fans attending football matches should have to witness.”

A significant national drop in both arrests and new banning orders – which were down to 208 from 360 the season before – is linked to the vast majority of matches being played without spectators last season due to coronavirus restrictions, but also reflects a wider downward trend, the Home Office said.

Prof Geoff Pearson, expert in football-related disorder and hooliganism, said the use of banning orders to prevent further incidents from those convicted of football-related offences is “utterly sensible”.

Prof Pearson, senior lecturer in criminal law at the University of Manchester, added: “The policing of football in this country has taken massive strides over the last decade and now we have a situation where the vast majority of matches pass peacefully.

“Those bans have played a significant role in reducing overall levels of violence and disorder, though what is less clear is the impact of bans on people who have not been convicted”, he said.

A Home Office spokesperson said football-related violence and disorder will not be tolerated, adding that the Government supported police in taking action.

He said: “We are also taking action to tackle online racist abuse in football by seeking to amend legislation so that online abusers can be barred from stadiums in the same way violent thugs are barred from grounds.”

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