The football fans you'd least like to catch a train with

Police publish 'league of shame' as violence moves from stadiums to railway carriages
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The Independent Online

A massive rise in football violence on Britain's rail networks has prompted police to publish a league table of clubs with the worst offending supporters.

West Ham pushed Sunderland into second place in the "league of shame", on the basis of its fans being involved in more serious incidents on trains, according to figures out for the first time this week.

Manchester United came third. Liverpool, Chelsea and Leeds are also in the top 10.

British Transport Police (BTP), which compiled the figures, say they show the reputation of "the beautiful game" is being tarnished by the behaviour of a hard core of fans who have been involved in more than 100 incidents in the past three months alone.

They range from individuals behaving anti-socially towards other passengers to "serious incidents", such as staging pitched battles with rival fans on station platforms.

BTP will next Saturday launch a zero-tolerance campaign on yobs who terrorise passengers and staff with aggressive, rowdy and drunken behaviour. More than 500 BTP officers and police community support officers will be targeting 19 of the 52 matches being played. These include Arsenal vs Blackburn and Portsmouth vs Chelsea, which could lead to tension and violent confrontations between supporters.

Leeds and Hull fans, whose clubs are both playing in London, will also be closely monitored.

Train operators will enforce barrier controls. Anyone who is drunk, disorderly or attempting to avoid payment will not be allowed to travel and could face arrest. Fans will also be urged to phone a free hotline and report trouble-makers to the police.

New hardline measures to tackle hooligan gangs have reduced football-related violence at matches and around club grounds. More than 1,000 fans have now been given banning orders to stop them attending matches at home and abroad.

But senior police officers are warning that violent fans have now turned their behaviour away from pitches to railway stations and the Tube network.

The BTP worst-club ratings are based on the number of serious incidents involving fans, the number of arrests of fans and the impact of these offences on the general public.

Leeds, which had the worst supporter record last year, is currently rated fourth by the BTP. Four of its fans have been arrested so far this season in connection with transport-related violence, and eight have been involved in anti-social behaviour.

Millwall, whose fans have the reputation of being among the most violent in the country, is ranked at number five. Its fans have been involved in five antisocial behaviour incidents but only one has been arrested for causing trouble on the railways.

Eight Liverpool supporters had to be ejected from a train at Wolverhampton on 5 November, after being abusive towards other passengers. In another incident on the same day, police were called to separate 30 Liverpool supporters and a breakaway gang from Manchester United who were throwing bottles and beer cans at each other at Stafford railway station. Batons and CS spray were in readiness but not used. Liverpool are currently 10th in the worst fans league.

The BTP monitors 125 English and Scottish clubs, including those in the Championship and First and Second Divisions. Figures that have now been made available from last season, reveal that only 29 of these clubs were not involved in football-related disorder. There were 62 serious incidents, 266 antisocial behaviour incidents and 292 arrests last season.

Andy Trotter, Deputy Chief Constable of BTP, said that tackling hooligans who blight the lives of innocent rail passengers was a key part of the Government's agenda on tackling antisocial behaviour. Policing rowdy fans on the move around the country called for "complex" intelligence gathering, he added.

"Rowdy football fans can be a nightmare for other passengers. Even when they are only being boisterous, in the confines of a train or in large groups on stations, they can be very intimidating,'" he said.

"This is the sharp end of the Government's agenda on tackling antisocial behaviour. Active policing of travelling fans is a 'must do' for us. If we get it wrong, people get hurt."

Additional reporting by Rob Tolan

THE 10 WORST TEAMS THIS SEASON

1: West Ham United

serious incidents: 4

antisocial behaviour: 2

arrests: 4

points: 28

2: Sunderland

serious incidents: 1

antisocial behaviour: 9

arrests: 5

points: 28

3: Manchester United

serious incidents: 2

antisocial behaviour: 1

arrests: 14

points: 26

4: Leeds United

serious incidents: 1

antisocial behaviour: 8

arrests: 4

points: 25

5: Millwall

serious incidents: 1

antisocial behaviour: 5

arrests: 3

points: 18

6: Arsenal

serious incidents: 2

antisocial behaviour: 1

arrests: 5

points: 17

7: Chelsea

serious incidents: 1

antisocial behaviour: 3

arrests: 5

points: 16

8: Newcastle United

serious incidents: 1

antisocial behaviour: 3

arrests: 5

points: 15

9: Wolves

serious incidents: 2

antisocial behaviour: 2

arrests: 0

points: 14

10: Liverpool

serious incidents: 2

antisocial behaviour: 1

arrests: 1

points: 13

Scoring system: serious incident scores 5 points; antisocial behaviour scores 2 points; arrest scores 1 point