BCFC: Fan Protests
At the moment Blues supporter groups are working together under the ‘Sell The Club’ banner and a campaign of action has been agreed. The purpose of the campaign is to encourage a change of ownership at the club.
The campaign is expected to be lengthy and to take many forms. Already a petition has been launched and future activities will include other forms of protest including, on occasions, direct action. A march is planned for Friday night’s home game against West Bromwich Albion for example, with a demonstration of card waving inside the ground at kick off to follow.
But what is acceptable and what are the potential consequences of taking direct action?
Read on………….select a subject
- 1. Displaying Banners And Posters
- 2. Throwing Items On To The Pitch
- 3. Physical Protests
- 4. Football Banning Orders
Much of the legislation that applies to behaviour and spoken words also applies to printed material. Banners can be an effective of way of reaching the club and the players, but care should be taken to avoid language that may fall foul of public order legislation.
What counts as threatening (or abusive) words or behaviour is, to a degree, open to interpretation but you can assume threats towards the owner, swearing at players or club staff or displaying an offensive message will do the trick. Police tolerances do fluctuate dependant on the situation so the use of industrial language and degree of hostility may be deemed acceptable during a game but the same words or behaviour outside the ground after the fixture where the message becomes a lot more direct and personal, may result in further action.
Fan protests have previously involved throwing items onto the pitch. Tennis balls and a live chicken, two well known examples, were clearly not intended to cause harm. There is no doubt that deliberately throwing coins, bottles , flares and the like will be considered violent conduct and will see the individual punished in law. But items thrown to make a point as part of a protest will also be subject to action against the individual. Regardless of the intent, throwing anything is an offence under the Football (Offences) Act 1991.
Equally, venturing onto the playing area for any reason other than an emergency in the stands will invoke the Football Act and is also an offence. And at St Andrew’s as things currently stand, venturing into the closed lower tiers would also be an offence and risk injury.
Protesting outside the ground, particularly where obstruction of roads is involved, will fall under the Highways Act and whilst police are likely to simply clear the carriageway failure to move when directed to do so would be an offence.
A fan protest involving the road network, a march for example, is achievable and under the Human Rights Act (freedom of expression and assembly) may even be supported if not explicitly sanctioned by police as would an assembly and stationary protest at or close to the ground providing criminal offences are not committed. Negotiation with and notification of match commanders is a requirement. If a fan group felt such action was necessary it is recommended that the organisers consult the Public Order Act to ensure they are acting lawfully and fulfilling their responsibilities.
It should be noted that any criminal offence committed at the ground or even in the locality on match days (and even at other times) are likely to invoke Section 14 of the Football Spectators Act 1989 and will almost certainly result in either a blanket ban from future matches (and limitations on international travel) or a ban from the club. A conviction for a criminal offence is not necessary. An application for a banning order can be made via the Civil Court even when the individual is not ultimately prosecuted for an offence.
Blues Trust recognises the importance of fan protest and is supportive of fan activism. But only under the right circumstances, and in the right manner. Protests must be responsible, safe and lawful at all times. And without exception. Whilst the results of fan activism may not be immediately tangible, it is vital that fans who care deeply for their club are able to express themselves.
Click here to view the open letter
SUPPORT THE CAMPAIGN. JOIN THE TRUST
The petition reads as follows:
To: BSHL & BCFC
From: Birmingham City Supporter Groups
Purpose: Ownership change at BCFC
Birmingham City supporters are calling on the club’s owners BSHL to put the club up for sale. Over many years of decline and decay our once proud club is now failing both on and off the pitch. There is no longer trust in this ownership, and we demand change, the clubs very existence is at risk. Therefore, we say no more uncertainty and delay. The time for change is now. Our stated AIMS and actions are:
- We want a clear exit strategy provided by the owners to include specific timelines
- We want open and honest communication provided on a regular basis
- We want a Fan Advisory board set up with immediate effect.
IN SHORT � Sell The Club � Speak to us � Give us a voice
Send the message:
Enough is enough it’s time for change!
Keep Right On!
Over to you BSHL.
By making comments:
- All we ask is that it relates to the Club that we all love. It can inform, question, challenge, criticise even….but it should not be written to threaten and/or cause personal offence.
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