Eddie Howe warns rise in football hooliganism risks ‘tragedy’

Howe said: “I was shocked to see the scenes in Nottingham Forest and also at Everton. We’re going into dangerous territory where something could happen in games that could have horrific consequences and I don’t think anyone wants to see that, so I think the authorities need to act quickly to make sure we keep the ground that safe do as we can.

“I don’t mind the celebratory aspect, it’s part of football to celebrate a team’s success. I have no problem with that. It’s the aggression towards the opposition, it’s the swarms of people around one or two people, that doesn’t suit me at all.

“Here we have to act very quickly because we want to avert a possible tragedy.”

He added of the Vieira incident: “I found it very worrying. I won’t lie and sit on the fence and brush it off. I thought it was a worrying moment for anyone involved in football.

“You have a manager, a Premier League manager, surrounded by supporters from another team, a potentially very dangerous moment. I think we have to act now to avert a possible catastrophe because no one would want to see that.

“Everyone’s safety should be the top priority when going to a football match and I include the fans in that.”

Howe revealed Newcastle were discussing stepping up their own security for their visit to Turf Moor.

He said: “I don’t know the actual instructions we received regarding safety and ending of the game but I’m sure we will discuss it. It’s sad to think we have to do that when we’re focused on a game, but we’re aware of the situation.”

Police are urging fans not to stay on the pitch for the final day of the Premier League season

By Jeremy Wilson

Police have appealed to football fans to stay off the pitch during Sunday’s Premier League final and have won government support for a ban on cocaine use from next season.

In a week of disgrace in English football, Billy Sharp was first headbutted by a Nottingham Forest fan on Tuesday night and then Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira was sacked after being goaded by an Everton fan following Thursday night’s mass invasion was.

With the Premier League title, European places and relegation decided on the last day of the season on Sunday, clubs are braced for further potential invasions at the end of a first full season of fans since 2018-19.

The government expanded the criteria for football’s ban to include Class A drugs, particularly cocaine, which has been identified as a key factor in the overall rise in fan disorder this season.

“It has been alarming to see an increase in the number of fans taking to the pitch during matches in recent weeks,” said Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the national head of football policing.

“This has at times led to abuse and altercations with players, managers and club staff – which is totally unacceptable. The pitch is where players work, and we want them to feel safe like everyone else.

“I know emotions run high when clubs are promoted or avoid relegation, but a large number of fans storming onto the pitch at the end of the game is a safety hazard for everyone and I would urge all fans to be in their to stay seated and party properly.”

Statistics for the first half of the season had already shown a worrying nearly 50% increase in arrests, but also an increase in Schedule One offences, the vast majority of which involved either cocaine or drugs.

As The Telegraph revealed in January, police have been lobbying the government to ban fans who use cocaine and other Class A drugs at games.

“Ugly violence shocked all leagues”

It was announced on Thursday that football fans convicted of selling or using Class A drugs such as cocaine at matches could be given a five-year ban.

“It’s been an exciting football season but at some games we’ve seen ugly violence that has shocked all leagues,” said Police Secretary Kit Malthouse.

“Increasingly, police are finding Class A drugs at the heart of this disorder and that is why we must act. Football ban orders have been a game changer in eradicating racism and violence in football and now we want them to do the same for drug-related disorders.”

There was also deep concern within the police force over the lack of consultation on the government’s fan-led football review and a proposed pilot scheme that would allow alcohol during League Two and National League games.

Roberts told the Telegraph that there was a “clear link between alcohol and bad behavior.”

Drug use was particularly highlighted after the shameful mess at the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy, with the FA-commissioned Casey report finding “ticketless, drunk and drugged thugs” could have caused death after they stormed Wembley Stadium.

Premier League clubs are also facing pressure from security chiefs to increase spending on stadium policing following an exodus of experienced stewards.

“It is the clubs responsibility to ensure fans can watch matches safely and we will continue to work with clubs to see what can be done to prevent these incidents in the future,” said Roberts.

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