Soccer hooliganism isn’t dead and buried in England and Wales, but it is on the decline and is nowhere near as disgraceful as it was in the 1970s and '80s. The British Home Office recently released soccer-related arrest statistics for the 2014-15 English season, which also includes the few teams from Wales that play in England such as Swansea City and Cardiff City. The figures show the total number of arrests at stadiums during games have dropped for the third straight year and have reached an all-time low. However, this doesn’t include arrests which take place in the town centres away from the venues. The number of busts fell by 400 last season, which represents a decrease of 18%. In total, there were 1,873 soccer-related arrests during the season, which worked out to 4.9 arrests for each 100,000 fans or about one per 20,000.
34% of these were for public disorder while 22% were related to alcohol and 16% were for violent conduct. It should also be noted that not every arrest results in a conviction, but many of them result in banning orders which means the fans aren’t allowed to attend any games for a specific period of time such as a year or two. A total of 484 bans were handed out over the past 12 months which was a decrease of 194 or 29% from the year before. The highest number of bans on record was 3,174 back in 2011 and it currently stands at 2,181. Fans who are banned from matches have to hand over their passport and/or report to a local police station before and after their team plays in another nation.
There are 92 fulltime professional teams in England/Wales and dozens of others that are deemed to be semipro or amateur. The highest number of arrests, 772 of the 1,873, took place at Premier League matches, but the non-professional National League had the most arrests per fans as there were 7.4 busts per 100,000 supporters during these games. There were just four professional clubs out of the 92 that didn’t have any of their fans arrested at least once last season. Below is a list of the top 20 English clubs when it comes to the number of fan arrests for the 2014-15 campaign. Eleven of them come from the Premier League, while seven are from the second-tier Championship League and three belong to the third-tier League One.
20 Nottingham Forest
Nottingham Forest of the Championship League kicks the list off with the 20th-most arrests in the country last season. A total of 33 of the club’s fans were led away in handcuffs for various reasons and this represents the seventh most in their 24-team division. The club also ranks 10th in the Championship League when it comes to banning orders as there are currently 23 supporters serving them.
19 Stoke City
Stoke City of the Premier League had close to one arrest per game last year with 34 fans being charged by the police, which ranks 11th in their division. Just six of those came at home at Britannia Stadium and the other 28 were at away matches. How times have changed though, back in the 1970s and '80s you’d see more than 34 arrests during a single game. Stoke also ranks low on the Premier League banning list at 18th out of the 20 clubs with just 19 bans currently in effect and four of them being handed down in the past year.
Millwall fans have long had the reputation as being among the worst and most violent in the land, but just 35 of them were arrested in the 2014-15 campaign, which is still second most in their division. The League One club saw six of the busts coming at home matches and 29 coming on the road. When it comes to banning orders though, Millwall supporters show their true colours. The squad was relegated from the second-tier Championship League at the end of last season and led that division with a total of 64 banning orders, which was the fourth most in all of English football.
17 West Bromwich Albion
Birmingham-based West Bromwich Albion of the Premier League also had 35 fans arrested last season with just three at home and 32 on the road to rank 10th in the division. Their total banning orders of 21 is also pretty low at 15th in the Premier League. However, West Brom fans are known to be at their worst during local derbies between fellow Birmingham teams Aston Villa and Birmingham City. While they still get to vent their anger at Villa fans twice a year, they don’t meet Birmingham since they’re in the Championship League.
16 Tottenham Hotspur
Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur of London come next with 36 fan arrests in the 2014-15 campaign to rank ninth in the division. Eleven of these came at home at White Hart Lane, while 20 were during away games and five of them actually came at neutral matches where their team wasn’t even involved. Spurs ranks eighth on the Premier League banning list though and 14th in the country with 37 bans currently in effect. Seven of those bans were handed out last season.
London-based Fulham is another Championship League side which makes this top-20 list. The club had 39 supporters taken into custody last season with 11 of them being arrested at home at Craven Cottage and the other 28 coming during away matches. This was the sixth most in their division. Fulham ranks just 21st out of 24 Championship League clubs when it comes to banning orders though with just five of them currently in effect.
14 Manchester City
The blue side of Manchester certainly seems to be more well behaved than the red side when it comes to the number of fans arrested last campaign. There were 41 Manchester City busts in 2014-15 with 17 of them coming at home at the Etihad Stadium and the other 24 occurring on the road, perhaps at Old Trafford during the Manchester derby? The club ranked eighth most in Premier League arrests and about mid-table in regards to banning orders as they come in 10th in the division and 18th in the nation with 35 of them currently in effect. Just three of those came in the past year.
Barnsley is currently one of the worst English League One clubs in both on-field performances and arrests. A total of 42 of their fans were arrested last campaign with 13 of them being busted at home at Oakwell Ground, 28 of them arrested on the road and 1 of them coming at a neutral ground. They had the worst record of all League One sides. They rank just 10th out of the 24 League One teams in banning orders though with 15 of them currently in effect.
12 Derby County
Derby County of the Championship League had 43 of their fans carted off to the local police station last season after 10 of them were arrested at home games at Pride Park. Thirty-two of them were busted at away games and one of them caused trouble at a neutral ground. This ranks fifth worst in their division. As far as bans go, the club has 22 supporters on the banned list which ranks them 11th in the 24-team division.
11 Birmingham City
It’s probably not much of a surprise to see Birmingham City on the list. The fans typically cause trouble when playing Aston Villa in the Birmingham derby, but since the teams are in different divisions at the moment, that means the only chance they have of meeting is during domestic cup matches. Things could change next season though as it looks like Villa is destined to be relegated from the Premier League at the end of this season. Birmingham had 45 fans arrested last term with 14 of them being hauled away at home at St. Andrews and the other 31 busted during away trips to rank fourth in their division. The club also ranks ninth in their division for banning orders with 24 of them currently in effect.
Middlesbrough is one of the biggest Championship League clubs and third worst in their 24-team division when it comes to fan arrests at 49 last season. Their home ground of Riverside Stadium was the setting for 18 of the arrests with the other 31 coming on the road. The fans are also eighth worst in their league in regards to banning orders with 29 of them currently told to stay away from football matches.
Arsenal of the Premier League is one of the few teams which oddly had more fan arrests at home than away last season. The London-based club saw a total of 54 fans have their mug shots taken by the cops with 28 of them being busted at home at the Emirates Stadium and 26 of them coming while the squad was on the road. This places them seventh in their division. In addition, the Gunners currently rank ninth in their division and 15th in the country for banning orders at 36. A total of eight of those were handed down last season.
8 Leicester City
Leicester City, one of the surprise teams of the year and the hottest Premier League side over the past 50 games, has had some trouble in the stands both home and away. They’re another team which suffered more home arrests than busts on the road. Twenty nine of their supporters were arrested at home at King Power Stadium while 26 of them met the same fate at away fixtures and one of them was taken into custody at a neutral game. They’re ranked sixth in the Premier League for arrests and 14th in the division for banning orders with two dozen of them currently being served.
7 Newcastle United
A total of 57 Newcastle United supporters were given rides in police cars last season with 28 of them making the short trip to the local cop shop from their home ground of St. James Park. The other 29 were taken away by officers while attending matches away from home. Newcastle’s biggest rivals are Sunderland and there’s usually trouble when the two teams get together for the Tyne-Wear derby. Unfortunately, these two sets of fans often go at it in the middle of town. Along with having the fifth-most arrests in the Premier League, Newcastle by far leads their division and the country when it comes to banning orders with 132 of them currently in effect and 13 of them being levied last year. The second most on the list is Chelsea with 79.
Chelsea was fourth worst in the Premier League with 65 arrests last season and in a bit of a twist, most of them came at their home ground of Stamford Bridge. A total of 46 fans were escorted out of the London stadium while 18 of them were booted out at away games. In addition, one more was arrested at a neutral site. The club also ranks high on the banning order list as Chelsea is second worst in the country and their division with 79 of them currently being served. An even dozen of these were handed down during the last campaign.
Since Sunderland fans and Newcastle supporters don’t get along there’s usually trouble whenever these two sides meet in the Tyne-Wear derby, which is twice a year during league play. That could change in the next season if one of the two clubs is relegated to the Championship League. But the way things are going, both teams may end up down there next season. There were six dozen Sunderland fans arrested last season with 38 of the 72 being taken down at the Stadium of Light and 34 of them busted during road encounters. This ranks third worst in the Premier League while their current banning gags rank fifth in the league and 13th in the country with 39. Eight of these bans were received last year.
4 Aston Villa
Aston Villa, a Premier League club based in Birmingham, also had 72 fans taken down to the nick during the 2014-15 campaign. Most of the trouble was caused at away games since just 21 arrests took place at Villa Park with 45 coming during away clashes and another six at neutral grounds. Villa ranked second most in the division for arrests. There are also 31 Villa fans serving banning orders, which ranks 11th in the Premier League and 11 of those were dished out last term.
3 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Fans of the Wolverhampton Wanderers are ranked second worst in the Championship League according to arrest figures with 73 of them being fingerprinted last season. They’re another bunch which cause more problems on the road than at home as 49 of the arrests took place during away fixtures, one was recorded at a neutral stadium, and 23 busts came at home at Molineux. Wolves fans are also ranked fourth in their division and 12th in the country with their total of 43 banning orders.
2 Manchester United
Since Manchester United’s Old Trafford Ground is the biggest club stadium in the country when it comes to capacity, perhaps it makes sense that they’d lead the Premier League in arrests. Either that or there are just too many bad apples showing up at games both at home and on the road. A total of 39 United fans were arrested at home with another 46 suffering the same fate at away contests. As far as fan banning orders go, United ranked sixth in the Premier League and 11th in the country with 49 of them currently being served.
1 Leeds United
No surprise here really. Leeds fans have had a reputation of being notorious troublemakers for years now and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better with time. A total of 99 Leeds supporters shamed their club by being arrested last season to lead the country. You’d think one more hooligan could have been busted to make it an even 100 though. Leeds also came in second in their division behind Millwall for banning orders with 58, which ranks sixth most in the country. Leeds’ supporters take their act on the road with them as 71 arrests were made at away encounters and 28 came at home. There were 34 alcohol-related arrests, 28 for public disorder, 13 for violent activity, 10 for pitch invasions and eight for possessing flares or pyrotechnics.