Regulating Anti-Social Behaviour and Disorder among Football Spectators

Mark James, Geoff Pearson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Since the late Victorian period, disorder at and around football matches has been well documented in both the media and more recently in academic studies. During that period, nine enquiries have been commissioned by various governments to examine the regulation and management of sports stadiums, crowds and crowd disorder; however, it was not until the 1980s that football-specific legislation began to be introduced with the aim of reducing instances of football-related anti-social behaviour and violence. The Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol) Act 1985 introduced a range of measures aimed at reducing access to alcohol at football matches whilst the Public Order Act 1986 introduced Control Orders, the forerunner of not only Football Banning Orders but also Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. Following the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989, the Football Spectators Act 1989 provided the legislative framework within which not only could the structural and managerial defects that were the primary causes of the fire at Valley Parade, Bradford in 1985 and the crushing at Hillsborough itself be addressed, but also how football spectators would be more closely and specifically regulated from that point on. Football Banning Orders replaced Control Orders and subsequent amendments to this supposedly preventative measure have been introduced since 1999. Coupled with the introduction of football-specific public order offences in the Football Offences Act 1991 and changes in the policing of large and potentially disorderly crowds, this regulatory framework has ensured that football spectators are amongst the most extensively surveilled and strictly policed groups. Further, the techniques used and developed to regulate football spectators are now routinely used to control the actual and potential anti-social behaviour of others, including the imposition of ASBOs and the kettling of crowds. This chapter examines how and why football spectators act, or are perceived to act, in an anti-social manner. It then analyses why governments of all political persuasions have felt the need to regulate their behaviour so extensively and whether such regulation has been effective from both a legal and a practical perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnti-Social Behaviour in Britain: Victorian and Contemporary Perspectives
EditorsSarah Pickard
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)978-1-137-39930-4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2014


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