Stoke City have backed the Football Supporters' Federation’s (FSF) Watching football is not a crime! which challenges the police’s use of Section 27. To the club’s great credit they’ve also put their money where their mouth is and have offered £20,000 towards legal costs, should it be required. As far as we’re aware this is the first time a club has backed fans’ legal costs in this manner. Well done Stoke City!
Section 27 first came to the FSF’s attention in November when around 80 Stoke City supporters were rounded up in Greater Manchester pub and escorted back home by police using Section 27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006.
The legislation was never designed to police football fans, no trouble had occurred, and the pub’s landlord even said he would put food on for them next time as they had been well behaved! Following this a very similar case emerged with Plymouth Argyle fans in Doncaster.
As a result of these shocking cases the FSF teamed up with Liberty in order to prevent police from using Section 27 unjustly in future, as well as seeking an apology and compensation for fans that had been targeted.
Malcolm Clarke, chair of the FSF, said: “This is a superb gesture. I have never known a football club act like this in support of individual fans.
“I have spoken to Stoke chairman, Peter Coates, and chief executive, Tony Scholes, who have both been 100 per cent supportive of what we are doing.
“We are extremely grateful for that.”
If the case is taken to judicial review costs could come to around £60,000. Two-thirds of this would have to be met by the FSF, so it is still vital that supporters back the campaign too.
This is an issue that should concern all football fans – it really could be you next. We urge all football fans concerned by the use of Section 27 to donate the price of a pint to Watching football is not a crime!
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