Is football hooliganism on the rise because of the distance between fans and clubs?

Just shy of 2,000 fans were arrested on football-related charges during the 2015/16 season. And in the grand scheme of things, it seems like a small number, however, that was the first rise in arrests for three years.

Of the Premier League incidents, Manchester City fans made up the largest number of arrests with 66 of the Premier League’s 707.

Are the Citizens, for all their money and swashbuckling signings, a club with a fan base still connected deeply with their Manchester roots, the footballing roots of the 1970s and 80s? The roots that saw English clubs banned from European competitions due to the tragic events that happened on 29th May 1985 in the Heysel Stadium, Brussels, Belgium.

But what makes those involved with such incidents at Heysel, Hillsborough and even the scenes that were all over social media during Euro 2016, justify everything from the victims to the broken bones, cuts and bruises they’ll pick up along the way?

“For the one day it does happen, it does go right, it does go off, it’s top. And that’s worthwhile for all the shit days it doesn’t.”

Carl Moran, Manchester City Hooligan

It’s clear how Manchester City are just one of many of clubs that have a problem with hooliganism in the top flight of English football, and although small numbers, the increase is concerning; are the fans fighting back?

It’s fair to say that the Citizens have undergone the biggest transformation in any clubs’ Premier League’s history; from 1996 to 2000 the Citizens weren’t even a Premier League team and that club of Shaun Goater, Jeff Whitley and Richard Edghill is unrecognisable less than two decades on.

Perhaps hooliganism is a way for fans who remember Manchester City starting with Paul Dickov upfront to still feel connected with the club? Still feel part of the biggest influence in their life that has outgrown them, but they’ve not outgrown it.

“United is more of a club for England; they have fans all over. Whereas, City is more local.”

Carl Moran, Manchester City Hooligan

The justification is never there for violence, but how else can fans get heard or noticed, nowadays? No fan ever outgrows the excitement of passing their club’s icons in the street, whether it’s Danny Tiatto or David Silva; no fan ever loses those pre-match goosebumps as they take the walk up the stairs to their seat.

But those core values to fans are no longer core values to clubs. Premier League teams don’t care if they can’t fill the stadium on big nights, because they don’t care if the fans are there or not.

Accepting football clubs are businesses is a bitter pill for any fan to swallow. And those who can’t swallow it, it seems find the attachment to their club through violence.

It’s easy to blame those involved. But the clubs have sidelined the fans, the very people that clubs’ foundations are built upon; but how long can they ignore them and the trouble going on outside the ground?

Like most modern day situations, the establishment are to blame but it’s easier to kick the little guy.

Start the discussion

to comment