On the eve of this weekend’s Guy Fawkes celebrations, all 72 EFL Clubs have signed up to a new Chairman’s Charter to help put an end to the dangerous use of pyrotechnics, which include smoke bombs, flares and fireworks within EFL football grounds.
The introduction of the single issue charter comes amid increasing concerns about the proliferation of pyrotechnics being used in stadia during the opening matches of the 2017/18 season with its main objective to act as a future deterrent.
This is particularly relevant at Luton Town, where we have a wooden stand and low roofs at Kenilworth Road and in the worst-case scenario, we could end up with a major incident on our hands.
It also follows a number of incidents of significant concern where supporters have suffered serious injuries, including a 15-year-old boy who required hospital treatment for lung damage after a smoke bomb was thrown during a game.
In conjunction with police forces around the country, EFL Clubs will take strong and decisive action against any fan found attempting to bring a banned item into a ground. The same will apply to supporters who choose to discharge pyrotechnics within a stadium environment. Police should be informed of such incidents and consideration given to a prosecution and subsequent banning order, where sufficient evidence is forthcoming of a criminal offence.
Any supporter found to be in breach of the terms of the charter will face a minimum three-season Club ban. Clubs will be permitted the flexibility to reduce the length of the Club ban should an offender recognise the danger of their actions.
EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey said: “Taking pyrotechnics into our grounds is a criminal offence and, where there is evidence that the law has been broken, the police will always seek to impose a football banning order as an appropriate measure.
“The EFL recognises the collective role it must play in deterring supporters from committing pyrotechnic offences and from today, as a result of the introduction of the new charter, our Clubs in all instances will ban any supporter if they are found to be in possession of a banned device when entering an EFL venue. The same will apply to anyone who discharges a pyrotechnic when inside a stadium facility.
“We understand the prospect of banning supporters is not an easy one for Clubs to contemplate and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our member Clubs for their commitment to help deliver this important initiative on a collective basis.”
The National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Football Policing, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts said: “The use of pyrotechnics at football grounds presents a real risk to fans – there have been serious injuries and even a death as a result of their use. Our primary aim is always to keep fans safe and so welcome the EFL’s initiative to highlight and tackle the issue.
“The use of pyrotechnics or even trying to get them into a ground is a criminal offence. People using them are likely to face prosecution and a football banning order and aside of those consequences I would ask fans to consider how they would feel if, as a result of their actions, another supporter was scarred for life, seriously injured or worse.”
Tony Crook, Group Manager, Prevention, Protection and Road Safety at Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service added: “We support the EFL and its Clubs in taking this stance. Burning at over 1000 degrees these devices are highly likely to cause horrific burn injuries or even worse. Management should adopt and enforce a clear policy prohibiting spectators from bringing flares or fireworks into the sports ground.”
The introduction of the new charter is being supported by the launch of a new Pyrotechnics awareness campaign that will see the issue highlighted at all grounds up and down the country through a series of creative posters and artwork that will be positioned in concourses and other public areas alongside being published across Club media channels.