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 point near their club’s home ground, and are transported in a sanitised cordon all the way to the away ground and then back to their club’s home ground. It is impossible to buy a match ticket without travelling in this manner; car and rail travel to the match is banned. For many fans who live a long way from their team’s home city or town it means an effective ban on going to those away matches at all.

The phenomenon has even crept into Non-League matches, where attendances are just a few thousand rather than the tens of thousands going to major League fixtures. The latest examples are the home and away matches this season between Wrexham and Chester in the Football Conference, the first of which will take place on 22nd September at Chester FC.

But the fans are fighting back – as this blog piece by Andy Pierce of the Wrexham Supporters Trust , published by the Football Supporters Federation, shows.

He has launched a petition calling on ‘football clubs, the police and local authorities to reject and end the extreme and discriminatory practice of bubble matches’.

He argues that:

    ‘[Bubble matches] punish all away fans, and hope that will deter the violent minority. This is surely wrong in principle. People should be held to account for their own actions, not punished for the actions of others.
    One Wrexham fan lives a mile away from Chester’s ground and will have to travel to Wrexham, to be bussed into Chester in the bubble, then back to Wrexham post-game, only to have to drive home to Chester at who knows what time.
    The police and football authorities should concentrate on tackling troublemakers and incidents of disorder directly, with the co-operation of football clubs and supporters’ organisations. The disorderly few should be held to account for their behavior and the vast majority of peaceful football fans should have freedom of movement.’

Well said. The Manifesto Club is standing with the FSF and others to oppose this restrictive and unnecessary practice.

Read on:

  • The Manifesto Club report on bubble matches:
    Criminalising Football Fans

  • The Manifesto Club’s research has been included in critical pieces about ‘bubble’ matches, including in the New Statesman, by Martin Cloake and Darren White; and the Spectator by Brendan O’Neill

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