English Football League considering tougher measures to deter pitch invaders

Pitch invasions “cannot continue” with capacity reductions and fines among the penalties being considered to deter fans from going onto the field of play.

The warning comes from the English Football League’s chief executive, Trevor Birch, in a letter to supporters after the end of the EFL season.

A number of the play-off semi-finals were marred by scenes of disorder when fans ran onto the pitch at full-time.

It is a criminal offence to enter the field of play,” Birch said.

“While some suggest that pitch invasions are harmless in the main, the reality is that they are facilitating unacceptable behaviour by providing cover for the reckless few seeking to cause harm.

"There can be no blurring of the lines or ambiguity with this matter. Simply put, the pitch is for participants and the stands for spectators."

Trevor Birch, EFL Chief Executive

Earlier this month, a fan was jailed for running on to the pitch and head-butting Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground after their Championship play-off semi-final win against the Blades.

Swindon Town players were “physically and verbally abused” after their League Two play-off semi-final defeat at Port Vale.

The EFL will meet various authorities during the close season to discuss a range of measures that could potentially be introduced to prevent such incidents from happening again.

“As part of this work the introduction of tougher but proportionate sanctions will now also have to be considered with your respective club in the early part of next month,” Birch added.

“For our part, we will need to discuss what further measures could be introduced for the new season, including the potential use of capacity reductions, financial penalties, or other similar mitigations.”

Original article published 30.05.2022 on BBC Sport website.

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