Thursday 15 November 2012
Supporter safety at Premier League grounds has never been greater after a Home Office report showed that football-related arrests fell by more than 30% last season.
More than 13 million fans went to the 380 matches in the Barclays Premier League last season and during that time 814 arrests were made, a rate of 2.14 a match. This was down from 1,191 in the 2010/11 season. There were significant drops in arrests for public disorder and violent disorder, as well as for racist chanting and pitch incursions.
Richard Scudamore, Premier League Chief Executive said: “It is not by accident that arrests rates at Premier League matches have fallen by nearly a third over the past season. This is down to years of hard work and co-operation between all those involved in football in this country. Tribute should be given to our 20 clubs and the way they have worked with supporters' bodies, the police and local authorities to make grounds safe but passionate.
“The Premier League is now the most watched and supported football league in the world and with that comes responsibility. Over the last two decades our clubs have worked tirelessly to make Premier League grounds more welcoming and are striving to deliver a first-rate experience for all fans. Not only are our grounds currently 95% full but the audience for Premier League football has never been more diverse: 23% of attending fans are female, 11% are black or ethnic minority and 13% of season-ticket holders are children.”
"It proves that clubs working together with the football authorities and their local multi-agencies does work"
The police also welcomed the figures. "This decrease in the number of football-related arrests and banning orders is encouraging and shows the police service has worked hard with football clubs and supporters’ associations to ensure genuine fans can attend games without incident,” said Assistant Chief Constable Andy Holt, the Association of Chief Police Officers lead on football policing.
"Compared with the 2010/11 season there has also been a marked decrease in the number of public disorder incidents, alcohol offences and racist or indecent chanting at games.”
Policing minister Damian Green MP hailed the statistics, saying it was "testament to our hugely successful model of football policing".
He added: "Where hooliganism was once described as 'the English disease', we now set an example for others to follow.”
The Football Safety Officers Association called the reduction “encouraging”, putting much of it down to good stewarding and good ground safety management.
“It proves that clubs working together with the football authorities and their local multi-agencies does work,” said John Newsham, the FSOA chairman. “We must continue with this type of work and continue to build on relationships with all that are concerned with the safety of all who attend events.”
Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF), added that the figures emphasises that "the overwhelming majority of fans reject football violence of any sort".
Clarke added: "The overall picture is a very positive one and the FSF wants to make sure this downward trend continues - we believe it can do so and reaffirm our commitment to a multi-agency approach involving fans' groups, the football authorities and the police."
An example of how seriously the Premier League takes the care of supporters is the VisitFootball initiative, a joint venture between the Premier League and the national tourism board VisitEngland that assesses the level of service that customers receive at football grounds.
VisitFootball has adapted VisitEngland’s "Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme", which is used to assess other tourist attractions such as theatres and museums, specifically for football stadia. All 20 clubs in the Barclays Premier League were judged by a professional tourism assessor across eight areas of the supporter match experience, such as ticketing, stewarding, catering, toilets and the club shop.
During the first two seasons every club got one visit as part of the VisitFootball initiative but for the 2012/13 season every club will receive two visits. The scheme has been expanded to look at even more aspects of customer care and there are three new assessments being done at every Premier League ground: away supporters, accessibility and hospitality.