Wolves explain fan ban

Last updated : 14 November 2006 By Michael Morris
"Following the problems that Wolverhampton Wanderers and the Police experienced at the last two home matches against Cardiff City, the Safety Advisory Group convened a series of meetings regarding possible restrictions on the forthcoming fixture at Molineux," Jez Moxey told the Wolves Official Website www.wolves.co.uk

"It was the unanimous view of the Group that, due to the severity of the problems at Molineux last season and the season before, the only reasonable way of preventing a repeat of those ugly scenes and ensuring public safety was to sell no tickets to visiting Cardiff City fans for the match on 20th January. An application to the City Council's licensing committee to support the SAG recommendation to amend the stadium's safety certificate was submitted."

Moxey says that the Football League agreed to the request from Wolves and the Safety Advisory Group to refuse to sell tickets to Cardiff City fans.

City plan to appeal the decision and already several supporters have written to the Football League questioning the ban.

"At the Football League Chairmen's Conference in June," Moxey continued. "I approached Cardiff's Executive Chairman Peter Ridsdale and, although I knew it would not be popular with both set of fans, I suggested a reciprocal ban. He was sympathetic but said his club would not wish to support such a proposal.

"At the game with Cardiff in September there were concerns over the behaviour of some of our supporters at Ninian Park. Therefore, it was agreed at the SAG meeting that we would approach The Football League and make a recommendation that, due to the exceptional circumstances surrounding these fixtures, the Board agree to our request not sell tickets to Cardiff fans for the return fixture, rather than leave it to the licensing committee to resolve for us.

"I met with The Football League Chairman Lord Mawhinney on October 31st, and tabled our formal request in a letter on November 1st. The Football League board met last Thursday and, using the authority they have under the regulations, they agreed to support us on this occasion."

There were incidents at the game two seasons ago when Wolves fans were allowed to congregate by the away exits before the end of the match, when City fans exited the ground they were met by an element of home supporters looking for trouble. Poor policing allowed a situation to arise.

Then last season, the matters of which are still awaiting a full hearing, riot police were deployed into an enclosed area to quall a disturbance at the food kiosks.

And so because of these issues Wolves are looking to set a precident by banning all away supporters from this seasons fixture. Surely there's a compromise to be reached rather than a total ban?

Moxey continue by saying

"Hooliganism has blighted football for decades; it costs clubs millions of pounds in police charges every year, not to mention the time, effort and expertise that could be put to better use. Football wants to make sure fans can support their teams both home and away and this should be maintained as far as possible. However, we do not think it is at all unreasonable for any club that has experienced serious, large scale incidents of football related violence in the past to take steps to prevent such incidents happening again. A club's first priority, after all, must always be to try and ensure public safety.

"We are not pointing the finger solely at Cardiff because most clubs, including Wolves, have people who sometimes cause trouble at matches. It is these people who are not welcome at football.

"If the circumstances were reversed, then we would openly support similar restrictions on Wolves fans because the answer to the problem is straightforward - don't misbehave and you will always be able to follow your team home and away; misbehave and you risk the possibility of not being able to buy tickets for an away match.

"We know the law-abiding supporters of Cardiff City will be disappointed by this decision. We are also aware that officials of Cardiff City have said they will try to challenge The Football League's decision. However, I hope everyone will look at the big picture here, and if this decision plays even a tiny part in helping to reduce football related hooliganism in the future then it is a very small price to pay."

The small price to pay could be the total banning of all away fans from all fixtures. Once clubs have the power to decide what supporters they want visiting their grounds then a part of the game will die. I think Mr Moxey that the big picture here is discussing a suitable solution that will not jeopardise the thousands of fans who travel the country following their clubs each weekend and not the begining of the end of away supporters. You yourself agree all clubs have problems and Wolves and their police should look closely at themselves and how they handled the situations. A look at the Wolves fans at Ninian Park earlier this season should also tell you that you have some undesirables in your support.

Now we wait to see what happens next.