Here We Go Again – How To Address Pitch Invasions In English Football?
As the title suggests, this is not new territory for football. In fact, it has been a problem that the game seems incapable of fully eradicating. Back in 2015 it led to an excellent wide-ranging article by Grahame Anderson and Lydia Banerjee1, who referred to “scenes reminiscent of football’s darker days 7 March 2015 saw two pitch invasions at Villa Park.” On that occasion Aston Villa were eventually fined £200,000.2 Later that same year, Nick De Marco QC followed it up with a fascinating piece exploring how to address inconsistent pitch invasion sanctions that were being handed down, with particular focus on a pitch invasion that had taken place at Reading Football Club.3
Sadly, 2015 was not the end of the matter and there have been a number of further incidents at the end of the 2022 season, for example the pitch invasions at Everton4 and Manchester City5 which means that pitch invasions are back at forefront of the Football Association’s agenda (The FA).
Rather than repeating the excellent analysis of those two articles, which go into considerable depth about the then possible sanctions, ranging from criminal liability to tortious liability and the regulatory options available, this piece examines:
- The current FA Regulations on pitch invasions;
- The options The FA has in relation to the clubs involved; and
- What changes/developments The FA might consider in its recently announced regulatory review.
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- Regulating unruly football fans: the state of English law and proposed improvements
- How do we address inconsistent pitch invasion sanctions? The FA v. Reading FC
Ed is a Barrister at Furnival Chambers. Ed’s practice is diverse and includes a growing Sports Law practice including instructions from the Rugby Football Union and sitting on MCC Disciplinary Panels. He is also a London Football Association Disciplinary Panel Member.
He also has a busy criminal practice in the Crown, Magistrates’ and Youth Courts and has been instructed in a wide range of criminal matters. Those who instruct him have noted his meticulous preparation and he has been described as very approachable and professional in his manner. Furthermore, Ed has a growing practice in Financial Crime both for the defence and prosecution.