Premier League: Banning orders or prison warning for fans with flares

Football supporters hold lit flares aloft as others enjoy the atmosphere outside Wembley Stadium

Football supporters who take flares or smoke bombs into stadiums are risking banning orders or even prison, the Premier League will warn.

It is launching a campaign aimed at eradicating the growing trend of fans taking pyrotechnic devices to matches.

Recent incidents involving flares have occurred at Wembley and Villa Park.

"We will say to fans we understand you think this is a bit of fun but they are dangerous," said the Premier League's head of supporter services Cathy Long.

She told BBC Breakfast: "We want people to be aware of what the dangers are, both to themselves and the people around them.

"It will also make people aware of what the consequences of their actions are - that this can carry a banning order, it can carry a custodial sentence, there can be really quite serious consequences for fans and we want to avoid that."

Last week, Fifa began disciplinary proceedings against the English and Polish football associations after flares, which can burn at temperatures of up to 1600C, were lit during October's World Cup qualifier at Wembley.

So far this season pyrotechnics have been used at or in connection with 131 matches at English league grounds, compared to 199 for the whole of last season.

Further figures from the UK Football Policing Unit say there have been 44 arrests so far this season. During the entire 2012-13 campaign officers made 70 arrests.

Everton, Manchester United and Wigan Athletic have each been involved in five incidents involving pyrotechnics.

Police reported an increase in the use of flares and pyrotechnic devices last season by nearly 140% compared to the previous year, while arrests for their use were up by 150%.

"Pyro dogs" trained to sniff out flares are also becoming more common at stadiums.

Assistant referee David Bryan was hit by one during a match between Aston Villa and Tottenham at Villa Park in October.

In May, a 15-year-old boy suffered lung damage from a smoke bomb thrown during Villa's game at Wigan, while in February a 14-year-old boy was killed by a flare thrown by supporters during a South American Libertadores Cup tie in Bolivia.

The Football Supporters' Federation has advised fans to think about the consequences of bringing pyrotechnics into football grounds.

Amanda Jacks, Case Worker for the FSF, said: "While some fans who bring pyro into grounds often do so with good intentions at heart, such as improving the atmosphere, there can be very serious consequences - injury, banning orders, criminal records and even prison.

"Furthermore, increasing numbers of fans are speaking out against their use. There are obvious safety implications, particularly if flares are thrown about. Others simply resent having their views blocked by smoke and fans have been hospitalised with smoke inhalation."