By Adam Goodwin
Pitch invaders at Premier League and EFL games matches will receive an automatic club ban under new measures to tackle increased anti-social behaviour among supporters.
Concerns were raised about safety issues at football grounds following a series of incidents which marred the end of last season.
Nottingham Forest fan Robert Biggs was jailed in May after headbutting Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp during the Championship play-offs, while Aston Villa keeper Robin Olsen was assaulted at Manchester City on the final day of the season.
Supporters who carry or use pyrotechnics or smoke bombs will now receive an automatic club ban and offenders reported to the police, while clubs also face tougher policies and stronger sanctions.
The Football Supporters’ Association has backed the new measures, which are being jointly launched by the Football Association, Premier League and English Football League from the start of the 2022/23 campaign.
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said in a statement: “The rise in anti-social behaviour that we saw in stadiums at the end of last season was entirely unacceptable and put people’s safety at risk.
“Together, English football has introduced new measures and stronger sanctions to send out a clear message that we will not tolerate this type of illegal and dangerous behaviour.
“It is the responsibility of everyone in the game, including governing bodies, clubs, players, coaches, and fans, to ensure that we all play our part in protecting our game and each other.”
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Football authorities are working with police forces and the Crown Prosecution Service ‘to establish a new principle’ for cases relating to entering the pitch without permission, as well as incidents involving pyrotechnics and smoke bombs.
Other measures to be implemented include improved searching of individuals entering stadia, increased use of sniffer dogs, and working with social media platforms to quickly remove fan videos of illegal behaviour.
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