EFL threaten capacity reductions to deal with pitch invasions similar to the one following Luton's play-off defeat to Huddersfield

Supporters warned they could face a club ban and criminal record

By Mike Simmonds
Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 1:59 pm

The EFL have revealed they may look at capacity reductions at grounds as one of a number of options to try and control the recent pitch invasions that have taken place during the play-off matches this term.

Following Luton’s 1-0 defeat to Huddersfield Town on Monday night, which saw the visitors beaten 2-1 on aggregate, thousands of Terriers fans ran on the field to celebrate reaching Wembley, although a number goaded both the Hatters players and travelling supporters.

One Town fan, 85-year-old Trevor Emery, was hit by a coin thrown from the field, with manager Nathan Jones later describing the antics he witnessed as an ‘absolute disgrace.’

Meanwhile, after Nottingham Forest beat Sheffield United on penalties last night, a Reds fan barged Blades forward Billy Sharp over as he stood by the dug-out, an incident that boss Paul Heckingbottom described as an ‘assault,’ saying: “We’ve seen one of our players attacked.

"He’s shuck up, bleeding, angry. It’ll be dealt with.”

In response to this, a statement from the EFL said: “Unfortunately, at recent end-of season and play-off semi-final fixtures we have witnessed a number of unsavoury and unacceptable incidents take place with supporters entering the field of play.

"These are currently under investigation by the relevant authorities and the EFL condemns in the strongest possible terms the reckless actions of individuals who have brought the game into disrepute with this unacceptable behaviour.

A Huddersfield supporter attempts to video Luton midfielder Robert Snodgrass after Monday's defeat

"The league is working closely with the police and clubs, offering its full support to the ongoing investigations.

"Supporters are reminded that it is against the law to enter the pitch at any time and could result in a club ban and criminal record.

"More importantly it puts the safety of players, coaches, managers and match officials at risk.

"It is vital that those playing the game can do so safe in the knowledge that they will not be subjected to violent, threatening or anti-social behaviour going forward.

The Huddersfield supporters go over to the away end on Monday

“Many people have already lost the privilege of watching their team via club bans this season and further punitive action will follow for those who continue to disregard ground regulations and break the law at football matches.

“We recognise that this lawlessness is being conducted by a small minority of individuals and that the majority of people attending matches are a credit to their club.

"However, it is not acceptable for supporters to enter the field of play at any time given the EFL’s objective is to ensure our matches remain a safe and welcoming one for all.

"Therefore, over the summer we will consider what further measures are now at our disposal, including the potential use of capacity reductions or other similar mitigations.”

Meanwhile, the use of flares by supporters was also condemned as the statement continued: “Fans are also advised that the use of pyrotechnic devices inside a football stadium is a criminal offence that will potentially lead to police action, prosecution, and a ban from football.

“Pyrotechnics and flares can burn at up to 2,500°C and can cause significant injuries to carriers and fellow spectators.

"We have also seen many incidents that have resulted in people experiencing burns, breathing difficulties, distress, and discomfort.

“Whilst the issue of pitch incursions and the use of pyrotechnic devices are primarily matters that fall within the remit of the police and Football Association, the EFL continues to work closely and collaboratively with all the relevant parties to address the broader issue of anti-social behaviour.”