For those of you have have followed this blog for some time, you would have previously read about the injustices against an Arsenal fan known as the Archway One. For the background on his story, you can play catch up here:
Nearly three years on from our first blog, the Archway One is no closer to having his ban overturned by the club.
Now before we start, it must be remembered, this is not a Football Banning Order. The Archway One can still go to games. He can go to grounds. He does not have to visit a police station on the day of the game. This is a ban, put in place by a single club, banning an individual from entering the ground.
This ban is due to an incident that happened 7 hours after a game and 3 miles away from the ground.
Since the ban, The WPC who ‘advised’ the club on the matter has been relieved of her duties due to reportedly falsifying evidence in other cases, and the Independent Football Ombudsman (IFO) had advised that the ban should be lifted.
Arsenal’s position has always been stated that it was acting on Police advice when imposing the ban, however a recent appeal presented Police documentation that current advice was to comply with The IFO’s recommendation and lift the ban. Yet the ban still stood after an appeal hearing.
A recent request from the club regarding this supposed appeal hearing this subject access revealed that:
- No minutes of the meeting were taking, and no panel member took notes
- Arsenal have refused to divulge the names of any members of the appeals panel or of anyone in attendance
- All correspondence is signed “The Arsenal Football Club” – Nobody is willing to their name to this decision
This leads to the logical thinking as to whether an appeal hearing actually took place. Or have the club just come to a decision without following their own due process?
Most recently, the Archway One took his complete further. Questioning Arsenal’s own appeal process (or lack of) and took this complaint again to the IFO.
A long-standing Arsenal fan who had been given a five year stadium ban complained that his appeal was not properly considered and that the Club’s process was not open and transparent. He expressed doubts as to whether an appeal panel had actually met and he complained that he was not given reasons for his appeal being rejected.
Out of the complaint, the reasons behind the failed appeal were handed over by the club:
- The Stadium Ban was imposed because the supporter was considered to pose a risk to public safety
- The IFO did not dispute the imposition of the Stadium Ban
- The evidence did not clearly demonstrate that the supporter no longer posed a risk
- In the circumstances it would be inappropriate to reduce or amend the Stadium Ban
The review concluded by stating:
“The appeal committee was clearly not convinced that the perceived risk posed by admitting the complainant to the stadium had reduced. If he can produce new personal evidence to demonstrate that he is no longer a risk, then the Club has indicated that it is willing to consider such evidence”.
Due to the complaint, the club is now having to amend the Appeals Process in their club Charter to include the provision of the reasons for the decisions of the Appeals Committee for the 2016-17 season.
So in summary, the club have demonstrated that they have a personal vendetta against the Archway One and will up hold the ban no matter what. Continually changing the club’s charter and judicial processes to bloke the Archway One from getting the justice he deserves.
What is laughable is that they are claiming the ban is done on a matter of public safety. To protect supporters within the ground.
This despite the incident taking place 7 hours after the game and it not being a football related offence.
The club are demanding that they will only review the case again if evidence is bought forward that the Archway One is no longer a risk to follow fans within the ground, yet what they have not yet done is prove that the Archway One ever was, or is currently, a risk to fans within the ground.
Surely it should be up to the club to demonstrate why they believe the Archway One to be a risk, not vice versa. Innocent until proven guilty and all that?
This seems no more than a personal vendetta. A cover up. Someone at the club does not want him at games. And rather than coming out and saying that, they are hiding behind annoymous appeals process, and unsigned letters.
It is nothing short of a disgrace. And the worrying thing, it could happen to any of us, at any time.