While the vast majority of fans display their devotion to their team in the right way, the behaviour of a tiny minority presents a challenge for the club.
It can affect fellow fans, the whole club, its reputation, the team and players.
Taking action and imposing sanctions on fans is something we do not want to have to do, but there are circumstances where we need to, and we will. Standing by is not acceptable.
In those cases, where sanctions are necessary, it is important we retain the support of our fans, and that requires trust to be maintained. This needs clarity of process, transparency, fairness and proportionality. To achieve this, we formalised our approach to fan sanctions for misbehaviour, as recommended by the FSA and EFL.
Since the launch of the EFL Supporter Sanctioning Guidance (‘the EFL Guide’ – click HERE to read the press release) we have been looking at how to adopt the best practice at Carlisle United.
We have sought input from a fan viewpoint. and consulted widely with;
+ Supporter Liaison Officer
We also sought the views of Police from our Designated Football Officer, Jonny Sunley.
All feedback and comments in this consultation have now been reflected.
We have taken the EFL Guide and, following these consultations, have made a small number of adaptions to finalise our own new Carlisle United Supporter Sanctioning Policy.
All the key and core elements of the EFL Guide are retained and adopted, especially procedure and sanctioning principles. We have detailed different levels of incident and associated sanction options. We have highlighted actions we consider as aggravating factors. We have detailed the procedure for investigating incidents, including panels to review cases and then consider appeals. All is made public so fans can be aware, and there are no surprises.
Published on the club website are the:
+ The new Carlisle United Supporter Sanctioning Policy – click HERE to read that policy.
+ The EFL Guide – click HERE to read that guide.
Chief Executive Nigel Clibbens said: "Almost every one of our fans shows their passion and gives great support in the correct way. Their support up and down the country, and in superb numbers, is fantastic.
"However, the behaviour of a very tiny number of individuals occasionally presents a challenge for us. We have all seen incidents with pyros, objects being thrown on the pitch and at players and officials, and other anti-social behaviour this season.
"The behaviour of just a handful supporters in emotional moments has placed the club and all our fans under the microscope. Across the wider game, fan behaviour has prompted questions about how club and the football authorities deal with incidents that are in contravention of ticketing terms and conditions, or ground regulations.
"Since December we have worked together with a wide range of fan representatives to ensure we take fans along with us, in developing this new policy and approach, following the FSA and EFL guide. We have listened closely. We hope the instances where we need to use this are very rare. I expect they will be.
"However, when we do, for the first time, it is now clear and visible on the website for all fans to see how we will approach incidents, procedure and sanctions.
"Our approach is very much focused on the need for education and restorative justice, and a move away from the default position of a punitive response based on bans, to be a more tailored approach.”
Supporter Liaison Officer Simon Clarkson said: "We now have a sanctioning policy that went through extensive consultation with fans representatives.
"The policy is clear and where possible encourages education and restorative justice. Most of all it will allow for matters to be dealt with consistently which was the main piece of feedback from the fans.”
Matt Spooner, chair of CUOSC, said: "The introduction of standardised sanction guidance is something that should benefit the game.
"Consistency in the approach of dealing with incidents across the EFL should help fans enjoy the match day experience more and help clubs deal with issues that arise quickly and fairly.
"We absolutely recognise that a vast majority of fans proudly support their team, in great numbers, with no issues. We’re really proud of that. This is about having clear guidance in place for helping tackle any misbehaviour from a minority of fans, or visiting supporters.”
Nigel Davidson, Fan Director & EDI Officer, added: "Carlisle United is a welcoming club to all supporters and we want to offer the best entertainment experience possible.
"This requires fans to play their part and behave well to make it a positive experience for all. The updated policy makes it very clear how the club should act where behaviour doesn’t match expectations and gives a set of tools to enable restorative justice and education, where appropriate, to be at the forefront of any action taken.”
In December 2022 the EFL unveiled its new EFL Supporter Sanctioning Guidance (‘the EFL Guide’). It was developed with the FSA (the leading organisation representing fans in England and Wales), to assist its 72 clubs in dealing with supporter behaviour issues.
Click HERE to read more.
The EFL Guide [click HERE to read it] aimed to help clubs deal with the small number of supporters that cause issues at their clubs and to improve standards of sanctioning across the country.
With the FSA’s input, the EFL Guide recommended new communication protocols between club and supporter, an appeals system, education programmes and restorative justice programmes.
When launching the EFL guide, FSA caseworker Amanda Jacks said: “Traditionally, a club’s default position was to simply exclude those supporters who have unfortunately behaved in an unacceptable way.
“But what the guidelines reflect now, and this is absolutely with the EFL’s support, is a recognition that clubs are not going to resolve these issues alone by exclusion.”
Previously the club’s approach was detailed in the Club Charter.
Click HERE to read the Club Charter.