According to the mid-season statistics for the 2021/22 campaign, violence and other crimes at English football games has increased by a considerable 36% compared to the same point last term.
And it comes just months after government statistics revealed that the number of banning orders they have issued to ill-behaved supporters had shrunk to its lowest in a decade.
Nearly half (48%) of all EFL matches this season have had some kind of incident – be it a hate crime, the throwing of missiles or the use of pyrotechnics – reported to stewards or the police. That compares to 36% in 2019/20.
That has led to a similar increase in the number of arrests being made, although it should be noted that the police presence at games in the top four tiers of English football has risen by 20%.
The biggest increase in disorder has been witnessed at games in the Championship and the National League, with police representatives confirming a sad trend that ‘younger’ fans are those are becoming more readily embroiled in crime in the stands.
Throwing It All Away
It comes following the harrowing scenes before, during and after the Euro 2020 final at Wembley, where England ‘supporters’ stormed turnstiles without tickets and assaulted security staff to force their way inside. Baroness Casey, who was responsible for the investigation into the chaos, claimed that the ‘day of shame’ could have led to a number of deaths.
It’s a scenario that has all but ended England’s hopes of hosting the World Cup in 2030, and comes after an October case study by the government that found that fewer fans have been banned for bad behaviour before and during the 2020/21 campaign than at any other time since 2011.
The number of arrests at English football matches had fallen from 2,500 in the 2012/13 season to fewer than 1,500 during the 2018/19 campaign – the last full term not to be affected by the global crisis. Either the behaviour of supporters is getting better, or stewards/police are no longer enforcing their powers with such regularity….
The issues are not exclusive to English football, of course, with France in particular witnessing a depressing rise in violence and crime on the terraces.
But in the weekend just gone, Antonio Rudiger, Lucas Digne and Matty Cash all had missiles thrown at them, while four arrests were made in the West Ham end at Old Trafford following their 0-1 defeat to Manchester United.
And images shared on social media showed the extent of the damage caused by Cardiff City fans to the toilet blocks at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate ground, which will cost thousands to repair.
— Cardiff City Online (@CardiffCityLive) January 24, 2022
The fear is that British football is heading back to its dark old days of stadium violence, which seems to be confirmed by the stats. How long before games are being played behind closed doors again?