The Premier League is to take further action to prevent crowd trouble next season, while enshrining the right to fairly priced tickets for away supporters.
Stewards will be asked to accompany fans on away trips and supporters who invade the pitch will be subject not just to lifetime club bans but football-wide ones as part of plans announced by the top flight. A cap on away ticket prices, meanwhile, is to be written into the Premier League rulebook, with the cost to remain at £30 until 2025.
The announcements, which were made after the league’s annual general meeting, could be seen as an attempt at striking a balanced message to match-day supporters. Described by the league as “the lifeblood of the game”, their return after the pandemic reinvigorated the competition but also led to numerous instances of disorder that culminated in a series of pitch invasions at the end of the season which endangered players, coaches and club staff.
“Supporters must be reminded it is illegal to enter the pitch at any time,” said the Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters. “To be clear, this area is unequivocally for football and, under no circumstance should players, managers, match officials or staff fear for their safety – just as fans should remain protected in the stands. In addition, we have seen an increase in the use of pyrotechnics and missiles, both of which are not only a criminal offence, but can cause serious injury.
“These type of incidents must stop and new measures for next season will make that clear – the league fully supports club and football-wide bans for offenders … [a] minority who are behaving unacceptably. Crowd behaviour is an issue we and our clubs are addressing as a matter of urgency, in collaboration with partners and relevant authorities.”
The AGM followed a strategy meeting in Harrogate on Wednesday and both featured discussions over strategic issues of concern: from rules over ownership to the question of financial redistribution. While there was no formal resolution on these topics, it is understood there is support among clubs for limiting the amount of debt that can be placed on a club in the event of a takeover (a process known as a leveraged buyout) while suggestions that nation states might be banned from buying into the league at all are unlikely to come to pass.
The Premier League plans to push ahead with a new version of its criticised owners and directors test, with more talks planned in the autumn. An owners pledge, which would commit individuals to the support of principles of “sporting merit” and anti-discrimination is also likely to be signed in the upcoming months. The league also confirmed it would be suspending its six-year TV rights deal with the Russian broadcaster Match TV, as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.