Portsmouth braced for costly FA punishment following Sunderland pyrotechnic
Pompey face being hit with a fine following the letting off of a smoke canister which ended up in Sunderland’s family section.
The Blues will be the subject of a Football Association investigation after Saturday’s incident at the Stadium of Light.
Following Jamal Lowe’s 24th-minute equaliser, a pyrotechnic was released from among the 3,222 visiting supporters, prompting the Sunderland fixture to be delayed for five minutes.
Taking smoke bombs, flares and fireworks into UK football grounds is a criminal offence.
In accordance to the Football League’s Chairman’s Charter, offenders face a minimum three-season ban, in addition to criminal charges.
Samuel Parrott, 18, of Norton Drive, Fareham, was arrested by officers from Northumbria Police following Saturday’s incident. He has been charged with the throwing of missiles at a designated sporting event.
There have been a number of pyrotechnic incidents at Pompey away games this season, with the Good Friday trip to Burton another recent occasion.
And Mark Catlin anticipates punishment following the latest instance.
Pompey’s chief executive said: ‘As part of the Chairman’s Charter and under stadium safety and security rules, pyrotechnics are not permitted within a stadium.
‘We couldn't have made that any clearer to our supporters – the use of pyrotechnics are just not acceptable any more.
‘We’ve had various reports of some people either hit by flares or succumbing to inhalation of the smoke from the canisters.
‘Just because a few think they improve the atmosphere, that shouldn’t stop others being able to enjoy a game in a safe and secure environment without fear of choking on the smoke or actually getting hit by the flares.
‘We are still investigating reports that a young person was hit and hurt at Sunderland. It is something we are trying to verify.
‘However, currently in the UK, under every single rule book, pyrotechnics are not allowed into stadiums.
‘I would like to stress, these are not our rules, these are national rules which have to be enforced by various bodies and the law of the land. These must be adhered to and, as a responsible football club, we have to uphold that policy.
‘The FA will conduct an investigation and then it is at their discretion whether we are fined or not. I am convinced there will be an investigation for this one, it is quite high profile.
‘There’s a wide range of punishments available. Personally, I have never known a club docked points for the discharge of a pyrotechnic – but potentially there could be a fine.
‘We’ve had quite a few instances this season. Regulatory bodies will look at our record and, unfortunately, it’s not great.’
In November 2017, the Football League’s 72 clubs signed up to the Chairman’s Charter.
It’s launch represented a united front amid increasing concerns of pyrotechnics being used in UK football grounds.
Catlin added: ‘We will be assisting the police in their enquiries and, if the person who threw the pyrotechnic is identified, from the club point of view it is an obligatory three-year ban.
‘From a criminal point of view, it is down to the police to pursue a criminal offence, which could be a banning order from all grounds and international matches.
‘When our supporters cross that line, there is nothing we can do.’