Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Football supporter groups meet with Premier League

Posted on 22 March 2019 by Benjamin Lang

Premier League supporters’ groups have gathered in London to discuss pressing issues affecting fans in England’s top-flight.

The meeting took place at Portman Square on Thursday with a range of items discussed including safe standing, ticket pricing and the topical issue of fan behaviour.

This comes following a string of high-profile incidents in recent weeks which has put the behaviour of football supporters in the spotlight. The most notable of these occurrences in the top-flight was when an Arsenal fan approached Chris Smalling while encroaching the pitch during a goal celebration.

The Football Supporters’ Federation’s response called for a relaxing of the moral panic associated with such instances.

“I am categorically not condoning fans going on the pitch or saying they should do it, rather looking at a real world response to it rather than a moral panic,” the FSF’s Amanda Jacks told the BBC.

“We are seeing people criminalised for going on the pitch, celebrating for 30 seconds and all of a sudden they have got a criminal record which could be prejudicial for their futures

Jacks’ comments also come after seven fans were arrested for spilling on to the pitch following Newcastle’s equaliser against Bournemouth last Saturday. Jacks believes it is important for stewards to develop a more productive relationship with supporters.

She said: “It is important that stewards understand football fans, fan behaviour and crowd psychology.”

Fan representatives from each Premier League club are understood to have debated such issues at the meeting, with football fans’ interests prioritised in their thinking.

Other matters were also covered including the impact of Brexit and VAR on football fans. Supporters at the meeting were also updated on the progress of travel initiatives as the Premier League’s discussions with the Department for Transport are ongoing.

This was the sixth meeting between supporter organisations and the Premier League after the government made recommendations for increased fan engagement in 2016. The next meeting is scheduled to take place in autumn, where these issues will be re-visited.