Crackdown on flares is backed by football clubs

Queens Park Rangers v Sheffield Wednesday......Owls fans plus flare at Loftus Road
Queens Park Rangers v Sheffield Wednesday......Owls fans plus flare at Loftus Road
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Football clubs across South Yorkshire are backing a campaign to tackle the problem of supporters throwing flares.

The Premier League, Football League and the Football Association have joined forces to warn fans about the dangers of setting off fireworks after it was revealed children as young as eight have been used to smuggle illegal pyrotechnics into stadiums.

The move comes after a rise in the number of flares being seen at games.

The UK football policing unit said Sheffield United Football Club has been involved in four incidents with flares this season – one of the highest in the country.

In August, a Sheffield Wednesday fan was arrested – and later banned from Owls matches – after throwing a flare onto the pitch when Wednesday played Queens Park Rangers in London.

And a Barnsley fan threw a flare onto the pitch during the South Yorkshire derby with the Owls in October.

Mark Stokes, head of media at Barnsley, said people who smuggle flares into the grounds can cause harm to their own supporters.

He said: “We try to do our best to make sure they can’t get in.

“We do what we can and hope fans will take some responsibility themselves to avoid bringing them into the matches.”

The club has introduced amnesty buckets allowing fans carrying flares to hand them in before entering the stadium.

A Wednesday spokesman said anyone found in possession of flares at the stadium will receive a ban from Hillsborough, all Wednesday away matches and may face arrest and prosecution.

He said: “We welcome the education promotion relating to the growing trend for supporters to set off flares and smoke bombs.”

United spoke out after flares or smoke bombs were let off at a recent away game.

A Blades spokesman said: “The discharging of the flares or smoke bombs created casualties among our own supporters with three individuals needing to visit the Bristol City first aid point for treatment.

“If this dangerous behaviour continues it may not be long before we have a serious casualty among those who may be most vulnerable to such hazards and who are likely to be among our own supporters.”

Damian Green, policing minister, who is backing the campaign, said: “Flares are very dangerous and can cause severe injuries. We are lucky no-one has been seriously injured or killed by a flare here for a long time.”