The research, which was conducted with 1,635 Premier League supporters, found that 87% of fans believe that pyrotechnics such as flares and smoke bombs are dangerous at matches, and that 86% were concerned for their safety. The same number (86%) think flares and smoke bombs are a fire risk and 79% consider them to be a health hazard.
To help better inform fans who are not aware, clubs throughout the Premier League, Football League and Football Conference will be supporting a new campaign on the dangers of pyrotechnics by running adverts in their grounds and through club media, like programmes and websites.
The campaign, which features posters parodying football chants, also has an online presence, which can be accessed by clicking here. There are real-life examples of how pyrotechnics are not, as pyro users attest, 'innocent fun', but can have serious repercussions.
One of the facts revealed in the advertising is that it is illegal to enter a football ground with a pyro and that supporters risk jail and banning orders for being in possession of one.
Flares are used for marine distress and are designed not to be extinguished easily or quickly. They contain chemicals and burn at temperatures of 1600°C, the melting point of steel.
Smoke bombs are mainly used recreationally in paintballing and war games, but these also burn at high temperatures and are designed to be used in wide open spaces. They are dangerous for those with asthma or breathing difficulties and can cause panic in a tightly packed crowd. They are not designed for use in confined spaces and it is illegal to enter a football stadium with one and set it off.
The use of pyrotechnics is a relatively new phenomenon in English football, with the trend imported from Europe where the issue is much more prevalent.
It is a rising problem. In the 2010/11 season there were just eight incidents across the Premier League, Football League, Football Conference and domestic cup competitions. In 2011/12, this rose to 72 and last season it jumped to 172 incidents. During the 2013/14 season, up to the end of October 2013, there have been 96 incidents.
Amanda Jacks, Caseworker at The Football Supporters' Federation, said: "Whether it's down to concerns around injury, or issues with smoke blocking their view, this survey indicates that a clear majority of fans oppose the use of pyro inside stadiums. This tallies with anecdotal feedback from members.
"Despite this, its use does seem to have been on the rise lately, particularly among those fans who see it as a way to improve the atmosphere. However, we would strongly advise against supporters taking flares or smoke bombs into stadiums.
"Putting aside arguments over rights and wrongs, the simple fact is it's against the law and could be a danger to other fans. Use pyro in stadiums and there's a good chance you'll be caught, get a criminal record, and long-term football banning order. You might even go to jail."
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PYROTECHNICS AND FOOTBALL - BACKGROUND FACTS
Pyrotechnics are illegal at football grounds:
Being in possession of a pyrotechnic device at a football match, or attempting to bring a pyrotechnic device into a football stadium, is a criminal offence under the Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc.) Act 1985. Any person committing such an offence faces arrest and can expect the Court to make a Football Banning Order.
The 2012/13 season saw a record number arrested for pyrotechnics:
There were 71 arrests for 'Possession of a Firework / Flare at a Sporting Event'. This was an increase of 154% on arrests recorded for the 2011/12 season (28). These arrests have occurred at more matches in the Premier League (26) and Championship (21) than in League 1 and League 2 which saw fewer than five arrests each.
People are getting jailed and banned:
- In November 2013, a Manchester United fan was given a two-month jail term (suspended for 12 months) and banned from any football grounds for three years for setting off a smoke bomb during their clash with West Bromwich Albion six months earlier - Sir Alex Ferguson's last game in charge.
- In February 2013, two Chelsea fans were jailed for 28 days and given six-year football banning orders for taking smoke bombs into the Liberty Stadium for a match versus Swansea City. Their appeal for the sentence was thrown out.
- In January 2013, an 18-year-old Exeter City fan was jailed for two months and given a six-year banning order for attempting to take a smoke bomb into Torquay United v Exeter City.
- In August 2012, an Oxford United fan was jailed for two months and given a six-year banning order for taking a smoke bomb into Home Park for a match versus Plymouth Argyle. Incidents nearly always involved the away supporters
Of the 172 reported pyrotechnic incidents in the 2012/13 season, 164 were committed by away supporters. The average age of supporters arrested for pyrotechnic use is 20. Little disorder was reported as a direct result of their use.
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