When Wembley is ordered shut in June, the type of fans that have brought this shame on the stadium we fondly regard as the home of football will not care.
A run-of-the-mill Nations League fixture is not their idea of a big night out anyway. They are glory-hunters, shameless attention seekers, drunks, two-bob thugs. They frighten children and make targets of those who follow England home and away, through thick and thin.
They seize tickets and space from those who saved for the occasion, they threaten and invade because they have an untrammelled sense of entitlement. And to see Wembley empty because English fans have forfeited the right to attend, in UEFA’s eyes, will not bother them because, let’s face it, they weren’t going anyway.
England ordered to play one match behind closed doors as a punishment for Wembley chaos
So, ultimately, the wrong people get punished. But do not believe for an instant that English football is not getting what it deserved for the horrible chaos wreaked at Wembley on the day of the European Championship final.
If anything, this is overdue. There is a complacency around our game, from the top down.
Hooliganism is something that occurs elsewhere, usually eastern Europe, like racism.
Even the law enforcers play it down. The first meeting of the Security Advisory Group for the summer’s Wembley fixtures took place on June 4 and was attended by one member of the Metropolitan Police force, a lowly sergeant.
Fans clashed with stewards and police as they attempted to break into Wembley on July 11
At the post-riot debrief on July 20, there were six from the Met, including a chief inspector.
Let’s not pretend organisational competence is not again part of the discussion here. Laughably, the Football Association, too, are briefing that they are ‘disappointed’ with UEFA’s decision, despite chief executive Mark Bullingham previously having described a ‘six-hour siege’ by ‘lawless yobs’.
The FA have lost control of the area around the national stadium which has been aggressively developed by property investment company Quintain.
They are also in denial about behaviour and warning signals in the matches before the final.
A fan draped in England flag looks on as supporters with tickets brawl with the invaders
The official line is that there was no problem on semi-final day, for instance, beyond the odd instance of tailgating at the turnstiles. This is a lie. I had six family members in the ground that day. West Ham season ticket holders; another who goes away with Chelsea a few times each season. This wasn’t their first rodeo, put it like that.
After the win, it was wondered whether they would now pay up again to try for final tickets. Not a chance. The consensus was that nobody should go within 20 miles of the place, having seen the way fans behaved against Denmark.
My brother said it was the worst night he’s ever had at a football match, but the FA saw nothing.
So now Wembley shuts, and maybe not for the only time, if UEFA decide to take a dim view of future misdemeanours, as well as past crimes.
It won’t matter to the firework-up-the-fundament brigade but it’s a new low for English football, and must be addressed.
Fans stormed through the security barriers at Wembley just moments ahead of Euro 2020 final