'Just not acceptable': Portsmouth set for heavy fine as chief executive warns supporters over Sunderland flare

Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin admits the club are braced for a heavy fine after a pyrotechnic device was let-off at Sunderland AFC's Stadium of Light.

By Mark Donnelly
Monday, 29 April, 2019, 11:56
The flare in amongst the Sunderland fans at the Portsmouth fixture

The smoke canister - which ultimately found its way into the lower tier of the North Stand - was released from among the 3,222 travelling fans in the Premier Concourse shortly after Jamal Lowe's equaliser.

It caused a five minute delay in the restart of the fixture as security officials dealt with the incident.

It was today confirmed that an 18-year-old Portsmouth fan has been charged following the incident, and they could face a three-year stadium ban under the EFL’s Chairman’s Charter.

The 72 clubs of the EFL signed-up to the Chairman’s Charter in 2017 as they aimed to clamp down on the use of pyrotechnics in football stadiums - with increased sanctions for supporters using them.

Saturday's incident at the Stadium of Light wasn't the first involving Portsmouth supporters this season, with a flare released during their fixture with Burton Albion on Good Friday.

And Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin admits that the club themselves are also prepared for punishment after the latest incident - having warned supporters that the use of flares is not acceptable.

"As part of the Chairman’s Charter and under stadium safety and security rules, pyrotechnics are not permitted within a stadium," he said, speaking to The News.

"We couldn't have made that any clearer to our supporters – the use of pyrotechnics are just not acceptable any more.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

"We’ve had various reports of some people either hit by flares or succumbing to inhalation of the smoke from the canisters.

"Just because a few think they improve the atmosphere, that shouldn’t stop others being able to enjoy a game in a safe and secure environment without fear of choking on the smoke or actually getting hit by the flares.

"We are still investigating reports that a young person was hit and hurt at Sunderland. It is something we are trying to verify.

"However, currently in the UK, under every single rule book, pyrotechnics are not allowed into stadiums.

"I would like to stress, these are not our rules, these are national rules which have to be enforced by various bodies and the law of the land. These must be adhered to and, as a responsible football club, we have to uphold that policy.

"The FA will conduct an investigation and then it is at their discretion whether we are fined or not. I am convinced there will be an investigation for this one, it is quite high profile.

"There’s a wide range of punishments available. Personally, I have never known a club docked points for the discharge of a pyrotechnic – but potentially there could be a fine.

"We’ve had quite a few instances this season. Regulatory bodies will look at our record and, unfortunately, it’s not great."