Understanding the complexities of receiving a Football Banning Order

Q: My son wants to start going to football matches with his friends. I’ve heard that if you get arrested at a match, you can be banned for five years and have your passport taken off you. Is this true? I’m very worried.

Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 6:00 pm
A Football Banning Order would result in the person being unable to attend any ground in England and Wales for a period of time, as well as travel to a game abroad.

A: It sounds like you are referring to a Football Banning Order, which is an order the court can make when an individual is convicted of a specified offence, if that offence is sufficiently linked to football, in order to prevent violence or disorder at football matches.

The types of offences orders can flow from is wide ranging but covers typical football offences as well as violence and public disorder. Orders can be applied for when an offence has occurred within a football ground, nearby or even in a public place if the offence is sufficiently linked to a football match.

The Prosecution do not have to apply for an order, but is it usual practice that an application is made whenever there may be grounds.

The court must consider a two stage test when deciding whether to grant an order: whether an individual has been convicted of a relevant offence; and whether a banning order would help to prevent violence or disorder at, or in connection with, any regulated football match. If the test is met, the court must make an order. The law on the subject is complex and there are a number of cases dealing with various aspects of the test.

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An order can only be imposed for between three and ten years, and can include a variety of prohibitions but as a minimum, must ban the subject of the order from attending all regulated football matches in England and Wales and must also require the subject to report to a police station and surrender their passport when matches are being played abroad. There can be other restrictions such as not to go within a certain distance of a football ground. The subject of the order can apply to terminate it, once two thirds of the order has passed. Both the adult and youth courts have the same powers in relation to imposing orders and their terms.

Football Banning Orders are complicated law and can restrict an individuals activities significantly. If your son is at any time accused of a football-related offence, he should consult with a solicitor as soon as possible. The information which can be exchanged at an early stage could drastically affect the outcome of the case.