Football is one of the most popular sports in England and Wales to both play and watch on a weekly basis. On occasions, however, the mix of alcohol and heightened emotions can lead to a loss of control. This means that what should be a fun day out can turning into the possibility of a fan being banned from all football matches for a minimum 3 years period as well as a possible prison sentence following any football related disorder.
Only this month Chesterfield football law solicitor David Gittins, a football fan himself, represented a 58 year old client who had not been convicted since the mid-80’s. On this occasion he was before the court for football related offence. Notwithstanding the extremely serious allegation David was able to ensure his client kept his freedom and limited the conditions on the inevitable football banning order that the police applied for.
Football related disorder
Chesterfield Town had hosted Wrexham FC in a Vanarama National League match game. The match was categorised by the Police as “B”. This meant that there was a potential for disorder. Both before and after the match there were problems caused by a small number of fans. This included a serious incident in a pub close to the Proact Stadium.
The pub was designated for “home supporters only”. However, a number of Wrexham fans gained entry. This resulted in what the police describe as a ‘hostile environment’. During the disorder David’s client threw a pint glass that he had been holding directly towards the Wrexham fans. Thankfully nobody was caused injury.
Our client then left the pub, but not before he picked up a Police “spotter” video camera and took it with him.
The police investigation
After the match Derbyshire Police trawled CCTV relating to the incident. A number of arrests were made. Our client was interviewed and subsequently received a letter through the post informing him that he had been charged with threatening behaviour. This postal requisition gave him the date that he was required to attend court.
It was only at this point that David was instructed to assist. Had our client chose to seek our free and independent legal advice in police interview, we would have been aware of the full circumstances of the allegations much sooner and begun to prepare his case at an early stage.
Once legal aid was granted, David spent several hours watching the CCTV in the case. He analysed the evidence in full before advising his client on the strength of the evidence against him.
Early guilty plea to football related disorder
David attended Court with his client who entered a guilty plea. This would secure him maximum credit on sentence. A probation report was prepared. Our client was a risk of a sentence of imprisonment. The starting point for offending in these circumstances is 12 weeks in prison.
After hearing detailed and structured mitigation from David, the court decided that his client would be able to keep his freedom. He received a suspended prison sentence of 3 weeks.
Inevitable Football Banning Order
The police in this case applied for a football banning order. Unusually the police asked that as well as the usual terms banning attendance at all FA matches, there also be a large exclusion zone on match days. This would have prevented our client from entering an area around the Proact Stadium for 4 hours before and 6 hours after each home game.
David was able to persuade the Magistrates’ that such additional conditions were unnecessary.
Contact one of our football law solicitors
If you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about football related disorder then make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice.
If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case.
We have offices across the East Midlands and will happily travel across the country to provide representation for all football related offences.
Alternatively you can contact us using the form below.