Tag Archives: Birmingham City

Pitch invaders should not face imprisonment

I was sitting there at Sunday lunchtime having a cup of tea (Assam tea, little splash of milk) with the Birmingham v Aston Villa game on in the back ground. I was not really takingnotice when it happened. A fan ran on the pitch and punched Jack Grealish.

It was shocking.

Like many others, I like a drink before the game and get myself well up for the North London Derby. Adrenaline is running, you are on edge. Anything could happen. But running on the pitch and punching a player – that is simply idiotic behaviour.

A few hours later, when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his penalty, an Arsenal fan ran on the pitch and pushed Chris Smalling before attempting to join the Arsenal celebrations.

Now I do not know whether this fans had watched the Birmingham v Aston Vila game prior, and was inspired by what he saw, but it was another silly act.

These two incidents were on the back of a Hibernian fan attacking Rangers’ James Tavernier on Friday night.

Three incidents in the space of 3 days.

The authorities will come down hard in all 3 cases, using the full of weight of the law to prosecute and punish.

On Sky Sports, they talked about making “entering the field of play” a criminal offence. It already is.

Under the Football (Offences) Act 1991 it is an offence for a person at a designated football match to go onto the playing area, or any area adjacent to the playing area to which spectators are not generally admitted, without lawful authority or lawful excuse (which shall be for him to prove).

As it stands, the criminal punishment for entering the field of play is a fine. A court will also likely hand out a 3 year Football Banning Order (FBO) if it is a first offence. This banning order can increase to a life time banning order depending severity of offence and previous offences.

Clubs also have the civil power of banning fans from the ground in the same way a pub can ban a punter. It is private land. They can choose to ban however they want for however long they like.

In the case of the Birmingham fan, he will probably receive a life ban. It is not just that he ran onto the pitch, but he also assaulted Grealish.

He will be prosecuted under the Football (Offences) Act for entering the field of play but also likely to be prosecuted for common assault Criminal Justice Act 1988. This could lead to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months. (Note: he was given 14 weeks).

The CPS who probably also try and add Actual bodily Harm (ABH) in as this carries a sentence up to 5 years. However as there has been no bodily harm, this will probably fail and he will be convicted of common assault (note: he plead guilty to common assault).

In the cases of the Arsenal and Hibs fans, they will be fined and banned. Probably for 3 years by the courts and longer by the clubs.

All for 30 seconds of fame.

Pitch invasions are not a new thing.

For years in the League Cup Arsenal have suffered from silly children running on the pitch, and recently a YouTube channel decided to invade a Tottenham European tie. Whilst these are harmless acts, all would have been arrested and prosecuted.

The concern for the authorities is 3 incidents live on Sky over 3 days have shamed the English game.

They have a brand to protect, and will ensure that all those involved will be prosecuted to the full extent.

My concern is that the law makers go OTT.

Like with the Dangerous Dogs Act, governments throughout history have responded disproportionally to a minority of offences as they gained public interest. This results in them quickly passing legislation without thinking of the greater impact.

If they add imprisonment to the punishment for those fans that enter the field of play, it could have far reaching consequences.

Yes, the Birmingham fan deserves jail time as he assaulted a player. No one should fear being assaulted when at work – or any other time.

But if they role out imprisonment for all pitch invaders, this could be misused.

There was an incident a few years ago during an Arsenal v Manchester United game that highlights this.

“When Manchester United were away to Arsenal last season,” says Amanda Jacks from the Football Supporters Federation, “Rooney scored a winner and about half a dozen fans went tumbling over the barriers as the crowd surged forward. Clearly they weren’t trying to run on the pitch, it was just the momentum that carried them over. They all got arrested and charged with pitch encroachment. One pleaded guilty, the others pleaded not guilty, but the magistrates were pretty disparaging that the case had been brought at all.”

You could be completely innocent and be punished over a barrier, or simply be caught up in celebrating a goal, and end up with 6 months in jail.

Jumping on the pitch is not the equivalent of assault; so should not have the same maximum punishment.

The UK has a huge knife problem at the moment.

Sentencing guidelines indicate courts must impose a mandatory six month minimum prison term on those caught carrying a knife for a second time.

So you could be caught carrying a knife twice before being handed a 6 months sentence (and only in 63% of cases have people been sentenced to 6 months for their 2nd offence), or you could be jailed for 6 months for entering the field of play once whilst celebrating a goal.

It clearly is not a proportionate offence and the law makers need to think carefully before adding imprisonment to the list of possible punishments.

The bigger concern for me as a fan is that these fans behaviour supports those who do not want to see a return of Safe Standing. It supports the law which bans drinking in view of the pitch at football. And it supports kick offs at noon for big games.

Next season when Birmingham play Aston Villa it will be at 11:30am.

Fans will moan, they will complain, blame the police, the TV companies. The real person to blame is the chap who ran on the pitch and assaulted Grealish.

The actions of a single fan have consequences for every single other fan that go’s.

I do not want early kick offs for “security reasons”. I want to be able to stand and watch the game. Have a beer. But whilst people continue to misbehave.

Those who ran onto the pitch over the weekend will face proportionate consequences. My fear is that we will see a disproportionate response from the law makers and the consequences for the majority of fans could be greater.

Think before you run on the pitch.

Keenos

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Arsenal v Swansea set to be re-arranged for FA Cup replay

The weekends draw against Hull City is bad news for fans of Swansea City, as it is likely that their Premier League game against Arsenal will be re-arranged to allow the FA Cup replay to take place.

Looking at the fixtures list, and taking into account the implications of the Champions League, it is the only mid-week that is available between now the the FA Cup Quarter Final –Untitled

As you can see, there is not much time between now and the FA Cup Quarter Final.

Now some of you will be screaming “Arsenal do not play in the Champions League the weekend before the QF” Well you are right, but also wrong.

UEFA’s dictatorship dictates that national federations may not schedule top level games or cup matches that clash with Champions League or Europa League.

Basically, they do not want an FA Cup, La Liga or Serie A game to take away any of the viewers from their tournament. It is basically greed. They do not want their own TV viewing figures to drop, and therefore reducing the people that see their sponsors adverts. They basically bully national federations with “If you want to play in our competitions, you have to agree to our rules.”

They do the same with governments if they wish to host major tournaments – the IAAF also do it with the Olympics – ensuring little to no tax is paid by either the organisation or their sponsors.

What this leaves the FA, Arsenal & Hull with is three options:

  1. Re-arrange the Arsenal v Swansea and Birmingham v Hull City games, putting the FA Cup replay on either the 3rd or 4th of March. The re-arranged Swansea fixture will then be moved to the week commencing 18th March
  2. Play the FA Cup reply on the same weekend as the QF games. And then re-schedule the QF match for when the QF replays will be (and pray that the QF does not go to replay)
  3. Schedule the game for when the Champions League is, but have it finishing before 7.45pm so that is does not clash with Champions League games – Barcelona recently played a match against Sporting Gijon in La Liga kicking off late afternoon

The Swansea fixture is the most likely, and easiest for all involved, to move.

Looking forward into the future (if Arsenal get through), the Premier League and Arsenal could have some headaches coming up. If Arsenal make the QF of the FA Cup, and are taken once more to a replay, and get through to the semi final, we might see Arsenal having to play a fixture after the season has “ended.”

Untitled

If Arsenal make the Semi Final, requiring a replay in the QF, it leaves one free week to play 3 fixtures.

Even if we do not require a QF replay, it still leaves one game having no where to go, as the QF replay week will be used for Swansea, and it would still leave us to have to re-arrange the Swansea and Sunderland game into the same week to ensure all games are completed before the end of the season.

Of course, this is all just speculation at the moment, if Arsenal lose to Hull, the re-arranged Swansea game will take place where the FA Cup QF game is and there will be no need to reschedule any further games.

It could be even worse for Manchester City if today’s game against Chelsea go’s to replay. With next week being the League Cup Final, they already have one game to re-arrange. They could end up having 4 to find space for.

As a travelling fan, it is frustrating to not be able to take advantage of advanced rail tickets. I feel for Swansea fans who will be unable to get refunds. I feel for WBA fans who still await a date to play Arsenal. And I feel for ourselves, who are going to have to potentially wait until the last minute to purchase what will then be a £100 rail ticket to get to Sunderland (via Newcastle).

Sorry Swansea.

Keenos

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Semi Ajayi – The New Sol Campbell

In the last few hours on Twitter, former Charlton academy graduate, Semi Ajayi has announced he has joined Arsenal. Here at SheWore, we spoke to another former Charlton academy graduate on what to expect.

We have been told to expect big things from the big man. At 6 foot 4, being good in the air is a given, and that was the first thing we have been told. He is very good in the air. ‘Massive’ was the exact quote.

Anyone who watched our youths in pre-season, especially against Leyton Orient, would have marked our defence down as the weak link. Young Isaac Hayden performed OK, but Daniel Boateng looked out of his depth against the League One side. Whilst Hayden, at 18 has time on his hands, the signing of Ajayi will probably see the phasing out of Boateng.

Arsenal were especially exposed at corners and in the air against Leyton Orient. Ajayi should solve that problem. His height does not mean he is a bean pole. We have been informed that he has the strength to go with it, and at 19, he will only get stronger.

Picture by @ArsenalKieran - http://www.flickr.com/photos/goonerpower

Picture: @ArsenalKieran – http://www.flickr.com/photos/goonerpower

 

Most surprisingly about the Crayford born Nigerian is his ability on the ball. The first thing we were told about him was that he is ‘very comfortable’. It is very early to make comparisons before we have seen him, but with his height, strength and ability on the ball, he has the potential to eclipse what Sol Campbell did for the club.

A player who also makes very few errors, it is hard not to get too excited about the youngster. With what we have been told about him, he could have a huge future if he applies himself. It would not be too much of a surprise to see him make his Arsenal 1st team debut as early as the 3rd round League Cup tie against WBA.

On a negative note, most people remember the fanfare of Kyle Bartley signing from Bolton. Big things were expected of him, but he was sold to Swansea last season, where he made 1 league appearance before being loaned to Birmingham City this season.

Will Semi Ajayi be the next Sol Campbell? Or will he go the same way as Kyle Bartley? Wait and see.

Edit: Thanks to : for the brilliant picture.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/goonerpower and https://www.facebook.com/KieranCPhoto

Keenos