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Club News


A message from safety officer Chris Baker.

17 September 2023

Club News


A message from safety officer Chris Baker.

17 September 2023

I am writing these notes following the troubling scenes at yesterday’s match against Tranmere Rovers. Being new to the Club I was shocked and saddened at the behaviour of a small minority of the crowd, I won’t call them supporters. The use of highly dangerous and toxic pyrotechnics and the missile throwing under the cover of the smoke put not only the rest of the crowd in that area at risk but also the players and stewards. If these people were genuine supporters like the rest of the amazing fans they wouldn’t put our Club at risk of fines and points deductions.

The possession of a pyrotechnic in a stadium is illegal, it is not just against the ground regulations and therefore if you are found to be in possession, even having not lit the device, you are going to be arrested and face a day in court, a possible banning order, a fine and worst still a criminal record. That includes all of those I have on film passing a device between themselves yesterday.

The Football League Clubs have all agreed that possession of a flare, throwing missiles and running on the pitch now carry an automatic minimum ban of 1 year and I am pleased to say I have some good CCTV evidence of some of the offenders from yesterday. They will be receiving a ban which is not something I like to do but having worked in the industry at all levels for nearly 30 years, yesterday was probably one of the worst incidents I have seen.

Had the referee not been happy with my Teams response he could have abandoned the match meaning the game would have been forfeited, we would have been fined and the South Stand could have been closed down for a number of games. He confirmed to me after the match that he was considering this course of action for the players safety.

These pyrotechnics are fireworks, they burn at anything between 2000 and 4000 degrees and have been proven to contain elements that can cause cancer and respiratory issues. The spent devices were brought to the Control Room after the game and were still hot some 20 minutes after they burnt out.

Those that ignite flares are not only risking injury to themselves, as these devices have a history of exploding evidence of which you can easily find on YouTube or a quick Google search, but also to those around them including many young children. Worryingly it is reported that some of the teenagers using flares are giving them to small children to bring into the stadium because children are not searched. This is highly irresponsible.

One young supporter who suffers from asthma began to have an attack after the first device was thrown. Is this what we want our young fans to experience?

From the next match small children will only be invited to stand at the front of the South Stand if a responsible adult brings them down and instructs a steward that they are happy for them to stand there and tells the steward where they will be should there be an issue. This is for children under 10 years of age only. All others must stand with their parent or guardian behind the barrier and no children under 10 will be permitted in the central blocks for their own safety.

I would add that this is not a creche facility parent must check on their children regularly and not presume the stewards are looking after them, they are not.

In addition, the walkway immediately in front of the two blocks painted red will be completely sterile. Absolutely no one including the drummer will be allowed in this area. Should stewards receive abuse for this the offender(s) will be ejected and banned indefinitely.

Worryingly some of the missile throwing was from small children at the front so parents I would remind you that you are responsible for the actions of your children and if they break the ground regulations or in this case the law you will face the sanction on their behalf and will receive a ban.

If the minority of people who blacken the name of our Club continue, we can expect severe fines, yesterday may cost us in the region of £20k unless I can persuade the FA to be lenient, then reductions in crowd capacity with the affected areas closed, ultimately matches behind closed doors and finally points deductions. Had we received points deductions last season we all know which league we would be in now.

Any of these sanctions to a Club of our size could be catastrophic so I implore you to think carefully about your actions in future. Rest assured we are taking this very seriously as are the Police and any repeat will result in ejections and arrests.

I thank all the genuine Crawley Town fans who have made their feelings known about how unhappy they are with the groups behind the goal as have the players, management and back-room staff who were as dumbfounded as me as to why when we had momentum these individuals decided to ruin it.

I am happy to work with fans groups to try an improve the atmosphere and would willingly meet up once a month to discuss how we can do this safely, but I am not prepared to tolerate what I saw yesterday. It was frankly an embarrassment.

Chris Baker

Safety Officer

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