Impose points deductions to stop violent pitch invasions, says football security expert

·3-min read
Fans of Everton celebrate with a pitch invasion as they avoid relegation during the Premier League match between Everton and Crystal Palace - Getty Images
Fans of Everton celebrate with a pitch invasion as they avoid relegation during the Premier League match between Everton and Crystal Palace - Getty Images

Points deductions must be imposed for violent pitch invasions to prevent them leading to tragedy, a veteran Metropolitan Police officer who works with Premier League clubs has warned.

Rowland Stone, who spent more than 30 years in the Met before founding Tyler Security, told Telegraph Sport more police should also be deployed in grounds next season to combat the rising scourge.

Stone spoke out after fans of Manchester City became the latest to assault an opposition player during a pitch invasion, with Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen attacked following the Premier League champions’ title-clinching victory on Sunday.

Police were on Monday investigating the assault, having already charged two supporters over the scenes that marred City’s championship celebrations.

Stone said: “The only solutions are going to be that the clubs need to be held to account more. If they were to lose points over some stupid fan then they themselves will be a little bit more proactive.”

He added of Sunday’s invaders: “It was just so poor that they would come on the pitch in this way. Some of them just don’t have a brain. That’s the problem.

“With players worth millions and millions of pounds, who is say what could happen when they’re sort of surrounded by all these people?

“I do think it’s a little bit more of a responsibility for the clubs to sort it out. There can be meetings this summer which should lead to an increase in police in stadiums, points deductions warnings and life band warnings for fans. This can be in place by the start of next season.”

Alex Bomberg, whose Intelligent Protection firm provides security for athletes and the celebrity world, said: “We need more trained security and police rather than just stewards.

“Stewards are used for bringing the price right down, but it all goes back to duty of care, and it is very dangerous. At some point there will be a very dangerous incident, whether it’s serious violence on the pitch between fans or one of the football players getting severely injured.

“Ultimately, the fans need to understand that it’s dangerous for the players, it’s dangerous for the staff and it’s dangerous for them.”

Dan Chapman, a partner at Leathes Prior Solicitors, where he heads the employment and sports teams, said any player caught up in a pitch invasion would have grounds to sue his own club.

He said: “A football player is an employee of the football club, who have a duty of care as the employer to provide a safe working environment for their employees – which includes the football players as well as all other employees.

“The football club have to take whatever steps are reasonably practicable to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees whilst at work are protected.

“The football club employer, to avoid liability, would need to persuade a court that they had taken all steps that were reasonably practicable to prevent what is clearly a foreseeable risk – and that could be a high threshold for the football club to get beyond.

“The duty of care is not just owed to the employees but also other visitors to the premises, which would include the police or spectators.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting