FOOTBALL banning orders issued to hooligans and disorderly supporters and in force across the North-East have dropped since last season – but Newcastle United fans are still at the top of the table for trouble making.

During the 2018/19 season, a total of 1,771 banning orders were in force nationwide, with more than 150 linked to supporters of clubs in our region.

According to Echo analysis of new Government statistics, 157 FBOs were active last season and 85 football related arrests made in connection with fans of North-East clubs.

Mags fans had the most, with 71 of the bans linked to Newcastle United, which also topped the list of dishonour in the previous season, with 79 in force then.

The figures show that the club's fans have received the most FBOs every year since 2015, but Newcastle United has also been named as one of the country's most followed football teams, meaning its fanbase is likely to be comparatively larger than many other clubs.

Sunderland fans took 11th place nationally in statistics released for the 2018/19 season, with 40 in force, while 34 were linked to Boro fans.

One relates to a Darlington fan and three to supporters of Hartlepool United, while York City was linked to six banning orders.

The majority of FBOs in our region were given to men aged between 18 and 34, though eight were handed out to young people aged between ten and 17.  None were given to women.

In the same period, 1,307 football related arrests were made across the country, with 85 of those linked to clubs in the North-East – 34 of those were linked to Sunderland FC fans and 30 to Newcastle United supporters.  Most related to public disorder and alcohol-related offences.

FBOs were introduced in 1989, with the civil orders designed to deter hooliganism and prevent violent and repeat offenders attending matches both in the UK and abroad.

The orders can be imposed for up to ten years, where immediate imprisonment for related offences has occurred. Where there has been no such imprisonment, they can be handed down for a minimum of three years and a maximum of five.

Those who receive them are subject to a number of restrictions around match days, must surrender their passports when required to by the Football Banning Orders Authority and have to report to a police station during control periods associated with matches taking place outside of the UK.

Use of the orders has declined steadily since 2011 and dropped by three per cent nationally between August 2018 and August 2019.

Guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service says that prosecutors should apply for the orders whenever a person is convicted of a relevant football related offence, unless there are exceptional reasons not to do so.

The CPS say the deterrent effect of the orders cannot be underestimated and that the current legislation around football matches and associated disorder is “widely recognised by other jurisdictions as the most effective in this field”.


Legal guidance published by the CPS adds: “The success of the legislation, and in particular the use of Football Banning Orders has excluded offenders from the vicinity of football matches, has deterred others from becoming involved in violence and disorder and has enabled levels of policing at matches to be reduced.

“This has been achieved by a combination of self-policing by fans, high quality police investigations producing compelling evidence, and robust prosecutions where appropriate.”

Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt, of Northumbria Police, said: “Football fans in the North East are among the most passionate and knowledgeable in the entire country.

“I’m very proud to say that in recent years, we have worked very closely with supporter groups across Northumbria and we have built on that positive relationship already in the 2019/20 season.

“However, whilst the overwhelming majority of supporters behave responsibly whilst attending fixtures, we do not apologise for our zero-tolerance approach to dealing with match-day disorder.

“A number of individuals who have caused trouble before, during or after matches have recently received football banning orders, which prevents them from watching any regulated football match in the UK for a fixed period.

“The safety of spectators is paramount. These orders should act as a deterrent to anyone who is looking to cause trouble on matchdays and reaffirms our commitment to dealing with offenders robustly.”