The journey to Sky Bet League One has brought with it many challenges, however there are matters of an unsavoury nature that are essentially self-inflicted that must be highlighted.
Due to uplift in crowds, which is an essential part of our League One survival in terms of finance, there has also been an increase in anti-social behaviour including pitch incursions, missile throwing and more latterly flares and smoke bombs.
Another issue of concern is younger fans entering the ground with 'responsible adults' who are clearly not or worse, younger fans attending without a responsible adult at all. Whilst safeguarding measures are in place to spot this they come at a cost.
The Club takes these criminal activities seriously and has issued multiple bans from attending football matches at the Mazuma Stadium ranging from three-years to lifetime exclusion orders.
Matters that have occurred have been reported to the referee causing the Club administration issues etc. We would all rather be spending our efforts to take the Club forward not deal with the fallout from these incidents.
Only last Tuesday, we had a smoke bomb thrown from the area that Shrimps supporters were seated at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland. I fail to see how a person can get up in a morning with the idea that throwing a flare at opposition fans is acceptable or anyone for that matter.
I see some people consider 'it’s only a bit of smoke' ask an asthma suffer what 'only a bit of smoke' can do to them, and it goes without saying that throwing a flare or smoke bomb from that height on to unsuspecting fans is simply unacceptable and downright dangerous.
To be clear, any incursion on to the playing surface or surrounding area could result in a criminal trespass charge. Pyrotechnics are banned from football stadia, and it is an offence to be in possession of these within the ground.
Any breach of these regulations could result in a ban from the Mazuma Stadium and, following the due process through the courts, a Football Banning Order and a criminal record. You have been warned!
Rod and I have been involved in the Club for more than 25 years each and have only experienced a handful of issues over the years before this season. Morecambe FC is proud of being recognised as a family friendly Club, a reputation that has taken many years to build, and there is no place for some of the recent unacceptable behaviour.
We know the vast majority of our fans buy into this ethos and respect the Club, each other and supporters of the opposition.
As a Club we must now increase our efforts due to the actions of mindless individuals at a cost both financially and in time. We will be making more rigorous checks before supporters enter the ground, we will be checking proof of age and attendance of responsible adults. If you are a responsible adult, please act like one.
It is regrettable that I have to take the time to issue such a statement and I hope that people take on board the severity of how we will treat these criminal acts going forward. The Board of Directors and the Safety Team’s wish is that everyone can enjoy the games safely and responsibly.
Thank you in anticipation of your support in this!
Graham Howse – Co-Chairman