Football Fans Not Criminals

The Manifesto Club is supporting a new campaign, Football Fans Not Criminals, highlighting the ways in which ordinary law-abiding football fans are being treated like criminals. For merely attending a match and supporting their team, fans are subject to a series of special controls and restrictions which do not apply to supporters of other sports. There are 11 laws which apply only to football fans, creating offences which would not be an offence in a rugby or cricket stadium. It is an offence to carry alcohol into a football stadium, to drink in view of the pitch, to sell or give away tickets,…

The latest on travel-restricting ‘bubble’ matches

A guest post by Peter Lloyd: There has been some welcome reduction in the number of football matches subject to the draconian restrictions on freedom of movement that make them ‘bubble’ matches, as their discriminatory approach and blatant unfairness have become better known and objected to by clubs and fans alike. But already this season supporters of Burnley, Bristol City and Wrexham have been forced to travel on official coaches and severely restricted if they wanted to watch their team play at Blackburn, Cardiff and Chester respectively. Match kick-off times have been moved, pat-down searches carried out, roads closed and fans filmed by…

Defending freedom for football supporters

On 30 October, the Manifesto Club partnered the FSF and the Battle of Ideas to host a meeting about the regulation of football fans. Here is a post by Peter Lloyd, author of the Manifesto Club’s report ‘Criminalising Football Fans – The case Against ‘Bubble Matches’, summarising some conclusions from the meeting. In the wake of the 30 October debate, we should seek: A recognition that football is overwhelmingly a force for good with generally well behaved fans, and with grounds and surrounding areas extremely safe compared to other urban environments; A change from seeing all football fans primarily as a problem…

Wrexham fans fight back against ‘bubble matches’

A guest post by Peter Lloyd, author of the Manifesto Club report on ‘bubble matches’. The football ‘bubble match’ phenomenon may be fading, thanks to increased opposition from supporters and with some major clubs, notably Newcastle United, Sunderland and Hull City, siding with their supporters to overturn the imposition of bubble conditions. This has been reinforced through greater awareness of bubble matches in the mainstream press. ‘Bubble matches’ take freedom of movement and freedom of choice away from law-abiding citizens who are football supporters, travelling to some away matches. The fans are forced to travel on designated coaches from a designated starting…

‘Yid Army’ charges should never have been brought

It is good news that charges have been dropped against three Tottenham fans for using the word ‘Yid’. But why was such a case brought in the first place? It was last September that the FA put out a statement warning Spurs fans that their ‘Yid Army’ chants are likely ‘to be considered offensive by the reasonable observer. Use of the term in a public setting could amount to a criminal offence and leave fans liable to prosecution’. Tottenham fans had also been told to ‘drop the Y-word from their songbook’ by lobby groups such as the Community Security Trust and the…

57 travel-restricting ‘bubble’ football matches

In the Manifesto Club report, Criminalising Football Fans, Peter Lloyd documented the heavy-handed use of travel restrictions for football fans, known as ‘bubble matches’. At these matches away-fans are banned from travelling by car or public transport, and can only travel by licensed coaches from specified pick-up points. This is a major inconvenience, and gross interference on the freedom of movement of the majority of law-abiding fans. In April 2012, Peter Lloyd found that there had been 48 ‘bubble’ matches. He now reports there have been seven ‘bubble’ matches since the publication of the report, and two matches are scheduled in the…

Portsmouth v Southampton – Another ‘bubble’ football match

A follow up post from Manifesto Club member, Peter Lloyd, on the phenomenon of ‘bubble football matches’ (where away fans are banned from travelling to a match under their own steam, and must instead take approved coaches at defined pickup places and times)… If you are a Portsmouth Football Club supporter you will probably be aware that you will only be able to see your team play on 7th April at local rivals Southampton if you travel by designated coach from a designated pick up point at a designated time to a designated drop off point. That’s because the fixture is a…

Against car bans to ‘bubble’ football matches

Here is a post from Peter Lloyd, Manifesto Club member and football supporter, on the new phenomenon of ‘bubble matches’ – a ban on fans’ independent travel which amounts to a gross intrusion on freedom of movement… I am a close follower of football and a regular attendee at professional football matches. I have experienced being body searched as an “away” fan at a number of grounds including Brighton and Birmingham, the latter just a few weeks ago. This is an intrusive, excessive, disproportionate and unjustified interference with ordinary people going to a football match. Incidents which could be considered dangerous at…

Oppose the ‘anti-sectarian’ authoritarians

Guest post from Dr Stuart Waiton, Lecturer at the University of Abertay Dundee and co-founder of Take a Liberty (Scotland) ‘No one should be subjected to intolerance, prejudice or violence in 21st Century Scotland’. So reads the Scottish Executive website discussing Banning Orders, introduced in 2006, orders that can ban abusive or bigoted fans from attending any football game anywhere in the world for up to ten years. Ironically, as the authoritarian discussion about how to rid Scotland of sectarianism rumbles on it appears that the Scottish Government are illustrating their own far more worrying form of intolerance, prejudice and violence. Tolerance,…