Incidents of hooliganism at football matches in England and Wales last season reached their highest level since 2014. Arrests and acts of disorder soared to 2,198, according to alarming figures released from the Home Office.
The news comes after England stars Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier revealed their families no longer wanted to attend games due to fears of not being safe.
Last season saw the return of full stadiums in the wake of the pandemic – and this coincided with a spate of pitch invasions.
A Nottingham Forest fan was jailed after running on the pitch and head butting Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp at the City Ground, while a supporter who taunted Aston Villa’s Robin Olsen following a game at the Etihad four-year banning order.
Incidents of disorder were reported at more than half of all matches, compared to just a third in the season before Covid. Reported incidents rose 60 per cent, pitch invasions rose 127 per cent and there was an increase in football-related arrests of 59 per cent.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for football policing, said the figures proved the game had become a dangerous sport to be involved in again.
He said: “The statistics show a worrying rise in these crimes, which are both extremely dangerous for players, staff and fellow fans alike.
“We know that drug use, along with alcohol, is one of the key factors which leads to disorderly behaviour, and we are pleased that the Government is adding Class A drugs offences to the banning order legislation.
“Anyone who commits a criminal offence either outside or inside a football ground can expect to face the consequences of their actions.”
The EFL’s head of security and safety, Bob Eastwood added: “Combatting dangerous and illegal crowd behaviour remains a strategic priority for the EFL.