Supporters brief regarding right to protest

Whatever the result of today’s game and whether we are playing in the Premier League or Championship next season this Newcastle United cannot be allowed to continue. This Newcastle United is not our Newcastle United and we must all stand in unity until Mike Ashley is no longer the owner of our football club.

Mike Ashley doesn’t care about Newcastle United, he cares about cheap sportswear. So stay with us after the game as we occupy the ground after the final whistle. Bring your flags, bring your banners and bring your voices. We must continue to protest and make it clear that enough is enough and demand that the man responsible for club’s demise into existing only for TV revenue and sportswear advertising puts the club up for sale with immediate effect.

We have worked with Northumbria Police in establishing our plans for today to ensure we are all on a sound legal footing. Here we set out a legal brief regarding your right to protest, it is a basic human right, exercise that right today.

 

Ground regulations

Newcastle United advocate that Match Day Stewards are in grounds to contribute to fans’ enjoyment of the day. Their role covers safety of fans and making certain that each fan gets an unobstructed view of the game, amongst other things.

Stewards are employed by the Club or an agency contracted by the Club and should receive training to nationally accredited standards through a training pack, the “Training Package for Stewarding at Football Grounds”. The Premier League, FA and Football League plus the Football Safety Officers Association and Football Licensing Authority helped produce the pack.

The “Ground Regulations” for St. James’ Park  bind you when you buy a ticket – that is, you are agreeing to be bound by them. Legally this is the “tiny writing on the ticket that says you are bound by what we say but you can’t find the actual rules anywhere handy”. The St. James’ Park Ground Regulations can be found at http://www.nufc.co.uk/page/Club/GroundRegulations.

 

Right To Protest

Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful protest and this right is enshrined in law by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) Article 11(1) which states:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association with others”

Article 11(1) should be read alongside Article 10(1). Taken together they protect not only the right to assemble, but also the right to express oneself at that assembly or elsewhere. Article 10(1) states that:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.”

This right is qualified by Articles 10(2) and 11(2) which state that the freedom of assembly and expression set out above can be restricted for the following reasons:

  • interests of national security of public safety;
  • prevention of disorder or crime;
  • prevention of health or morals; or
  • protection of the rights and freedom of others

Providing you don’t do anything stupid, you have nothing to worry about regarding peaceful protest. It is one of your basic human rights.

 

Protesting With Banners

Ground Regulation 1 states that the Club may refuse entry to (or eject from) the Ground any person whose presence within the Ground is, or could (in the Club’s reasonable opinion), constitute a source of danger nuisance or annoyance.

None of our banners are offensive, dangerous or likely to cause annoyance. We have worked closely with Northumbria Police (and other Police forces at recent away games) to ensure the safety and enjoyment of others is not compromised and we have demonstrated that this is the case time and time again. Therefore, it cannot be a reasonable opinion to refuse entry or eject someone from the Ground in relation to our planned protest under this Ground Regulation.

Ground Regulation 8 states that you may not bring into the Ground any sponsorship or marketing materials other than official club products and/or other football related clothing. AshleyOut.Com is not a commercial organisation, or registered legal entity. We exist only to unite the fans of Newcastle United and put pressure on Mike Ashley, therefore any banners are for football related purposes and do not constitute sponsorship or marketing material. The Club therefore has no right to refuse entry or eject any person carrying anti Ashley banners.

Ground Regulation 6 gives the Club the right to search any person attempting to enter the ground. However, given the nature of our protest and the Ground Regulations, it would be futile to suggest someone attempting to enter the Ground with a banner does not comply with the Ground Regulations and you should be given entry.

 

What Stewards Are Supposed To Do

  • Their primary duty is to be responsible for the safety and comfort of spectators within the stadium and designated areas;
  • To keep gangways, stairwells and all entry and exit routes clear;
  • If an evacuation of the stadium is required to assist in its orderly completion and to make certain they are aware at all times of the proper procedures to follow;
  • Help the Police in identifying anyone who is banned from the stadium or anyone who does not have the correct entry requirements for the ground (stolen, duplicate or counterfeit tickets);
  • To make sure that the conditions upon the Club’s safety certificate and their ground regulations are met at all times (standing in all-seater stadiums is covered here);
  • To eject any fans for breaches of ground regulations;
  • Adhering to any Club policy dealing with searches as a condition of entry to avoid prohibited items entering the stadium; and
  • To be fully aware of all medical support and safety equipment;

 

What Stewards Are Allowed To Do

Under English law (which will include Wales for these purposes) Stewards have no special powers but are able like anyone to have a power of arrest where:

  • a breach of the peace is committed in their presence;
  • the person effecting the arrest reasonably believes that such a breach will be committed in the immediate future by the person arrested, or a breach of the peace has been committed or the person effecting the arrest reasonably believes that breach of the peace has occurred and that a further breach is threatened. A breach of the peace occurs whenever harm is actually done or is likely to be done to a person or, in their presence, to their property, or where a person is in fear of being harmed through an assault, affray, riot, unlawful assembly or other disturbance.


STEWARDS HAVE NO LEGAL POWER OVER AND ABOVE ANYONE ELSE TO DO MORE THAN DETAILED ABOVE.

 

Complaints

If you want to complain about Stewards then the first port of call will be the Club. To do this follow this process:

  • Making a formal complaint to the Club’s Safety Officer – currently Steve Storey (steve.storey@nufc.co.uk) ;
  • Complain to the FA at www.thefa.com where they say complaints section.
    Completely randomly, and possibly uselessly, you can complain to the Football Safety Officers Association at www.fsoa.org.uk.

If you want to complain about the Police then the starting point is the Independent Police Complaints Commission at www.ipcc.gov.uk/index/contact-us or you can do the following:

  • Email, write or telephone any Police station (but you might as well save some time and contact the relevant one) and request that your complaint is recorded;
  • Go into any Police station and request that your complaint is recorded against the officers/Police station involved;
  • Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or the Racial Equality Council, Neighbourhood Warden, Youth Offending Team or Probation Service;
  • You could contact a solicitor but we’ll charge to help you so better try your MP; or
  • Write to the Chief Constable or Commissioner of the Police service concerned.

You can also complain to the relevant Leagues covering the Club involved.

Premier League:
The Premier League
30 Gloucester Place
London
W1U 8PL
Tel: 0044 20 7864 9000
Fax: 0044 20 7864 9001
Email: info@premierleague.com
Website: www.premierleague.co.uk

The Championship
The Football League
Edward VII Quay
Navigation Way
Preston
PR2 2YF
Tel: 0844 463 1888
Fax: 0844 826 5188
Email: fl@football-league.co.uk
Web: www.football-league.co.uk

League One and Two
The Football League
Edward VII Quay
Navigation Way
Preston
PR2 2YF
Tel: 0844 463 1888
Fax: 0844 826 5188
Email: fl@football-league.co.uk
Web: www.football-league.co.uk

The Football Conference
The Football Conference
Third Floor
Wellington House
31-34 Waterloo Street
Birmingham
B2 5TJ
Tel: 0041 121 214 1950
Fax: 0121 212 9022
Email: info@footballconference.co.uk
Web: www.footballconference.co.uk

FIFA
FIFA-Strasse 20
PO Box 8044
Zurich
Switzerland
Tel: 0041 43 222 7777
Fax: 0041 43 222 7878
Email: contact@fifa.org
Web: www.fifa.com

UEFA
Route de Genève 46
Case postale
CH-1260 Nyon 2
Switzerland
Tel: 0041 848 00 2727
Fax: 0041 848 01 2727
Media Desk: 0041 848 04 2727
Email: ifo@uefa.com
Web: www.uefa.com

AshleyOut.com would like to thank the Spirit of Shankly Liverpool Supporters Union for their advice on this subject.

  • mickey667

    This is all well and good, but if a thousand people ran on the pitch scarves over wu faces, there’s fuck all the stewards (or the human rights act) could do about that.

    Thing is about civil disobedience lads, its often been on the wrong side of the law. That doesn;t make it thuggery, it makes it effective.

    i think if we thought less about regulations and what the Old Bill tell us we can do, and more about what would actually *work*, we’d do far better.

    Viva la revolution. #ashleyout

  • Billy Blagger

    Dear AO -firstly you were on a bit of a hiding to nothing yesterday trying to organise ANY form of protest after what was probably the most important game of the season. Simply if we had won last week a protest yesterday would have had more impact. nothing you could do about that.
    I think your instructions about protesting and taking things into the ground was a little late -on the morning of the match – and due to the fact that I had raised this subject (taking items into the ground) with yourselves several weeks ago.
    Whilst you have correctly listed the relevant laws and regulations to cover the subject matter at hand, which should inform supporters of their rights, unfortunately your conculsions are not correct or could be interpreted differently.
    Right to protest – absolutely nothing wrong with your information as far a quoting the law – unfortunately this does not apply to private places and SJP is a private place. You have no right to protest in a private place. Because some clubs allow protest withing their grounds does not mean that it is lawful to do so -just that they allow it to take place.

    Taking items into the ground. Again you have correctly quoted the regulations and have correctly identified that the issue can be boiled down to whether in the clubs “reasonable opinion” an article (flag/banner/poster) can be allowed into the ground which may cause offence to others. You have argued that evidence now exists that articles taken into the ground recently do not cause offence. I would probably agree -as there has been no trouble between fans. However, the whole argument is not what you or I think is probably right -it is what the club thinks – the phrase “reasonable opinion” would from the clubs point of view be better phrased as “unreasonable opinion”. If they formed the opinion that trouble would ensue (however unlikely) they can legitimately refuse to allow anything into the ground.
    The way forward on this aspect would be to have a proxy/agent write to Steve Storey at SJP an explore the subject further -NOW -in preparation for next season.
    To sum up -good advice article however leaving out all potential consequences results in a poor understanding of the laws and regulations – might be alright on Merseyside but not on Tyneside.

  • Billy Blagger

    I forgot to add – the club decides activities in the ground -whether you can protest/take items in and NOT THE POLICE.