Football banning orders beefed up for new season, with pitch invaders and drug takers targeted

Football banning orders (FBOs) have been beefed up for the new season, with fans who cause disruption on the pitch, and those who take Class A drugs, targeted.

The orders are used to prevent violence and disorder at football games and are imposed by the courts.

As well as now including drug-takers, FBOs have also been extended in scope to include fans who have been convicted of online racism in connection to football, the government has said, adding they will also be used in the women's game from this season.

It is all part of a government effort to improve behaviour at football grounds, after an increase in anti-social behaviour in stadiums last season.

From this season, offenders will be reported to the police by clubs, with prosecution potentially resulting in a criminal record.

Stadium bans will also be handed down automatically to any fan who enters the pitch or carries pyrotechnics in matches - putting an end to pitch invasions.

Those who are slapped with FBOs can end up being banned from football games for a period of up to 10 years, both domestically and abroad, and often have to surrender their passport and report into police stations as part of the order.

Speaking at Brentford's Gtech Community Stadium, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "There is no place for the ugly scenes we saw at some matches in England and Wales last season, and it is good to see the positive work being done by clubs like Brentford to ensure our stadia are safe places for families and children to enjoy the beautiful game.

"I am determined not to let a small minority ruin matches for true fans as the football season gets under way, and we are working closely with the police and the football authorities to tackle anti-social and criminal behaviour.

"I wholeheartedly support the extra measures all football bodies and clubs are bringing to keep fans safe and would encourage police and the courts to make full use of Football Banning Order legislation which we have recently extended to online abuse and will be shortly bringing in to root out Class A drugs at matches."

The Football Association, Premier League and English Football League have all also made recent pledges to crack down on anti-social behaviour at games, saying they will introduce new measures and stronger sanctions for offenders.

Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Masters, said: "Everyone should feel safe and able to enjoy a football match. In coming together with clubs and partners across football, we are making clear the type of incidents we saw last season must stop. If we don't take collective and sustained action, it may only be a matter of time before someone is seriously injured, or worse.

"The new measures introduced at the start of this season are a strong response to a significant increase in fan behaviour issues, but we know it is the minority who have behaved unacceptably and unlawfully.

"Premier League football should be a fantastic experience for everyone, and we don't want matches to be marred by these sorts of events."