EFL warns of pitch invasion crackdown after end-of season disorder
Supporters of EFL clubs have been warned tougher sanctions for pitch invasions are on the way after a spate of disorder towards the end of the season.
The play-off semi-finals in particular were blighted by problems, with a Nottingham Forest fan jailed for 24 weeks after he attacked Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp.
Police investigations are also ongoing in relation to player assaults at the Northampton v Mansfield and the Port Vale v Swindon matches.
EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said that although most people came onto the pitch for celebratory reasons, they were “providing cover for a reckless few seeking to cause harm” and warned pitch invasions simply had to stop.
“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,” Birch said in an open letter to fans published on the league’s website.
“The EFL will be working with the various authorities on a series of measures during the close season to help reinforce that message and address the challenge that is being presented to the game.”
Birch added: “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.
“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.
“The quickest and most straightforward solution to the problem is for all fans to think before they act and leave the pitch for the teams to play the game.
“That way there will be no requirement for authorities to get involved and everything can be settled on the field as it should be.”
The EFL board is due to meet on June 8, with the league’s annual general meeting scheduled two days later.
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This seems to be happening around Europe. I watched a relegation playoff in the French league last night and the home team lost on penalties. Straight away fans ran onto the pitch attacking the opposition fans with flares and instead of celebrating all the players and staff had to run to their changing rooms in clouds of smoke.
Years ago running on the pitch at the end of the last game of the season was a tradition at some clubs. It was good-natured and seemed a fitting end to a long season, bringing fans and club together.