Czech Republic v England: Euro 2020 qualifier - police tell fans 'do not join drunken minority' in Prague

By Simon StoneBBC Sport
A general view of Prague
England fans have been warned they could face on-the-spot fines for drunken behaviour in Prague

England's football police chief has told fans "not to get wrapped up with the drunken minority" in Prague because, if trouble breaks out, pleas of innocence will fall on deaf ears.

England face the Czech Republic in a Euro 2020 qualifier on Friday night.

Although England's official allocation is 3,731, it is expected over 6,000 fans will travel to the Czech capital.

Mark Roberts, national lead for football policing, failed in a bid to Uefa to change the day of the game.

"Stay clear of the drunken minority," Roberts told BBC Sport.

"If you are there and get wrapped up in it, the argument 'I wasn't doing anything' doesn't carry a great deal of weight."

There have been recent instances of alcohol-fuelled trouble involving England fans.

In March 2018, more than 100 were arrested over two days around a friendly against the Netherlands in Amsterdam, which was also played on a Friday evening.

Seven fans were arrested around the Nations League event in Portugal in June, when fans clashed with riot police.

It has brought back memories of rioting England fans from the 1980s, although Roberts feels many of those involved in the current problems weren't alive when those disgraceful events occurred.

"In general, the deterioration in behaviour linked to alcohol has coincided with a younger element starting to follow the team," he said.

"It tends to be in the destinations that are a bit easier to travel to like Portugal and Amsterdam. Those are the types of places that can attract a crowd who are not always that bothered about seeing the game but drink to excess. Unfortunately, they tarnish the name of everyone."

Roberts has warned a system of on-the-spot fines and banning orders is in place to deal with anyone who comes to the attention of an unknown number of his 'spotters' who will be Prague for the game.

Policing on Friday will be stretched by the funeral of legendary Czech singer Karel Gott, an occasion that has been granted state honours.

While this could not have been foreseen, Roberts feels Uefa need to consult with police authorities before deciding when matches should be played.

"I would certainly like to see our view aired on that," he said.

"With the Premier League and Football Association, we have a conversation about problematic fixtures and try to make arrangements so those high-risk games are played at a time when there is least likely to be disorder.

"It is a conversation we need to have with Uefa. There is no shortage of games Uefa could screen on Friday night, our submission would be it doesn't have to be this one."

England will qualify for the Euro 2020 finals if they win in Prague.