Football Fans Will Be Permitted Back Into Stadiums From 2 December 2020' But Will The Enforced Break Result In Football Banning Orders Being A Thing Of The Past?

Publication Date03 December 2020
SubjectCoronavirus (COVID-19), Government Measures, Operational Impacts and Strategy
Law FirmBCL Solicitors LLP
AuthorMr Daniel Jackson

Introduction

As a football fan, I have missed attending the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with my family whilst games have been played behind-closed-doors during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With fans allowed to return to stadiums following the end of lockdown, albeit in limited numbers, one has to wonder whether the minority of attendees who previously struggled to conduct themselves appropriately, will now appreciate the opportunity and lead to a reduction in unlawful behaviour at or in connection with football matches.

As a timely reminder, those persons convicted of a relevant offence or following a complaint (by the police or the Crown Prosecution Service), risk being subjected to a Football Banning Order ('FBO'), which was established by the Football Spectators Act 1989 ('the Act').

What is a Football Banning Order?

Such an order prohibits an individual from attending a regulated football match in the UK and must be made (there is no discretion) if a court is satisfied (there are 'reasonable grounds') that it would help to prevent violence or disorder at or in connection with any regulated football match(es). If a court is not satisfied of the aforementioned, then it is required to state that fact and provide the reasons.

An offender would be required to report to a police station within five days of the FBO being made and when certain matches are played outside the UK, as well as possibly surrendering his or her passport and other regulated football match-specific conditions.

A 'relevant offence' is set out in schedule 1 to the Act, which lists a large number of offences, including but not limited to: violence, possession of weapons/firearms, public order, criminal damage, alcohol/drug-related and road traffic, but only if they were committed at or in connection with a football match (including travel to and from - whether or not the individual attended or intended to attend the match, and also covers breaks in the journey, as well as overnight breaks).

Where an offender is sentenced to a term of immediate imprisonment, the FBO must be for a minimum of six years and a maximum 10 years. For any other sentence, the FBO must be for a minimum of three years and a maximum of five years.

If a FBO has been in place for at least two-thirds of the period imposed, the individual subjected to the FBO may apply to the court to terminate it, which the court can do from a specified date or refuse the application. When considering the application, the court must have...

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