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Police probe incident with fans getting ejected from Weymouth v Halifax

Police probe an incident which took place at the Bob Lucas Stadium with fans getting ejected from Saturday’s Weymouth v Halifax game.

Two supporters from the away end (Windowman Stand) got kicked out by police due to racist and homophobic abuse being shouted, which marred the National League encounter.

DorsetLive reports that an investigation has been launched following reports of a racially aggravated comment and a homophobic comment, allegedly made by two FC Halifax Town fans.

Police probe incident with fans getting ejected from Weymouth v Halifax

Weymouth FC chairman, Ian White said: “I was immediately made aware of the incident during the game about the away fans being ejected.

“We do not tolerate that sort of behaviour. Everyone at the club is against racism and homophobic behaviour.

“We want to stamp out of forms of it in football and life in general.

“It has to be stopped.”

Dorset Police have confirmed an investigation into the alleged abuse at Weymouth on Saturday has been launched.

A spokeswoman from Dorset Police said: “It’s reported that two people were asked to leave the ground during a match between Weymouth FC and FC Halifax Town on the afternoon of Saturday, March 5 at the Bob Lucas Stadium in Weymouth.

“It’s reported that one made a racially aggravated comment and the second person made a homophobic comment.

“Enquiries are underway into both reported incidents. Dorset Police condemns hate crime of all forms and we are committed to investigating offences of this nature.”

The game itself saw Zak Dearnley find the net on his league debut for the Shaymen as they continued their playoff challenge with a win at Weymouth.

Halifax rise back up to fourth, one place behind Wrexham with a game in hand, after second-half goals from Tom Bradbury and substitute Dearnley extended their unbeaten league run to four matches.

Martin Woods hit the crossbar for the West Yorkshire outfit in a goalless first half before they took the lead eight minutes after the break through Bradbury’s strike following a free-kick.

Dearnley, who came on as 63rd-minute replacement for Jamie Allen, sealed the points for Halifax in stoppage time when he turned neatly in the box to fire home from Jamie Thomas’ cross.

Data collected from the 1st of July to 31st of December 2021 from English domestic competitions only and compared to same six-month period for season 2019-20 – the last one without restrictions pre-pandemic

– 802 football related arrests so far this season – an increase in 47% from 547 arrests in 2019-20 – the highest number of arrests since UKFPU started collating in season 2015-16

– Incidents of disorder reported at almost half (48%) of all games across Premier League, EFL and National League – compared to 34% in season 19-20

– There were 759 reported incidents of disorder – including flares, missiles and hate crime – up 36% from 560 in 19-20

– 210 incidents were involving young supporters under the age of 25, up from 154 in 19-20. The five year average of incidents involving under 25 was 168

– That’s despite fewer games this season (1,581) due to postponements, than in 19-20 (1,670)

– The biggest increase in reported incidents of disorder is in the Championship and National league. Up 58% in Championship and 56% in national league from 2019-20

– Police presence at 66% of football matches across top five English divisions, compared to 46% of games in 19-20.

University professor in law Geoff Pearson, regarded as one of the UK’s leading experts on football-related disorder, said the data would match “anecdotally, what we have been hearing from both football officers and fan representatives”.

“It is quite usual for us to see fluctuations regionally, in terms of levels of football violence and disorder, but I think the new stats are interesting because they tend to indicate maybe a national trend,” Pearson told BBC Sport.

“There are a number of different reasons, some relating to fan behaviour and others to overall match management.

“In terms of fans, it could be that we have a post-lockdown effect, which is that fans didn’t have the opportunity for that transgressive carnivalesque behaviour during lockdown and now they are essentially letting their hair down and engaging in more of that behaviour that is challenging and bordering on criminality.

“Also in terms of management, we have had 18 months out of live football attendance and that has had an effect on the police because it means those opportunities to build relationships and engage in dialogue and identify problematic individuals simply haven’t been there, and there is a lot of knowledge that has been lost and there will be key personnel who have moved on as well.”

Chief constable Roberts said talks to change alcohol consumption laws at football – currently banned when in sight of the pitch unlike rugby and other sports – were “madness” and “irresponsible”, given the increases in disorder. Though, Pearson does believe that those laws need a “re-think”.

He added: “Alcohol has always been a problem in terms of football attendance and, unfortunately, the legislation introduced in the 1980s hasn’t been effective at reducing alcohol consumption and has in fact created issues such as crushing at concourses, late entry at the turnstiles and those are many of the flashpoints where the incidents of disorder this season have been taking place.”

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