Emirates under attack. What do we do about flares?

By Tony Attwood

We know now that some visiting supporters will bring flares into the ground.  Everton and Liverpool supporters do it, as to supporters of some continental teams.

We know it happens, and we know they are very dangerous indeed.  Flares and smoke bombs can cause huge amounts of personal damage, as well as spoil the enjoyment of people sitting around the area.

We also know from the comments of Everton fans on this site that some of those who support some clubs whose supporters engage in this behaviour, will defend the practice, and think that it is totally ok.

Last night the game was stopped, flares were thrown on the pitch as well as being let off in the crowd, and the stewards were, once again, seemingly powerless.  Powerless to stop people bringing in flares, and powerless to stop them letting them off.

So what now?

As I understand it, in Uefa’s terms Arsenal FC are responsible for law and order within the ground, which is understandable.  So if this continues we could run the danger of having part of our ground closed because of public order offences.

I can understand Arsenal not wanting to say anything about this problem at first, because if they had a plan for dealing with flares, they might well not want to disclose it to one and all.

But if they have had a plan, it clearly has failed.  Not only has it failed to stop flares, the problem has got worse.  Fans of other teams seeing the events, might well have been encouraged to bring in ever more flares, knowing that they are likely to go through security.

In the meanwhile, as one supporter near me last night side, “Arsenal get worked up about bringing a plastic top of a bottle in site of the pitch, but we have this going on.”

I think it is time for Arsenal to take steps, and to let us loyal supporters who are in the ground, know what they are doing.

First off, are they going to admit that there is nothing that they can do to stop flares coming into the ground?  Come on Arsenal, be honest here.  Is it just impossible to control this?

If it is, then let’s talk about banning visiting support from clubs that are known for bringing in flares.  We can be fair about this  – tell all the clubs in advance, and then if their supporters come in and let off flares then that’s it.  They are banned for one year.  If then they do it again, they are all banned for three years.

Second, if there is a new plan for stopping flares, we don’t need to know what it is, just let us know there is a plan.  Then if it fails we can come back to the banning option.

This tells us that our club is not running around like a headless chicken, but has the matter in hand.

Let us not think nothing is going to happen from Uefa.  They might be slow and dozy but sometimes they do act.  For example in August this year Uefa opened disciplinary proceedings against Malmö for insufficient organisation and the setting off of fireworks in their ground by supporters. Uefa ordered a partial closure of Malmö New Stadium during one Uefa competition match in which Malmö would play as the host club and said which bit of the ground it wanted closed.  This suspension was deferred under a probationary period of two years; and a fine of €30,000 imposed.

The fine won’t worry Arsenal, and nor will closing of part of the ground if it is for away support, but Uefa has the option to close other parts of the ground too.  Roma’s ground is under investigation too.

We know that following the use of flares by Liverpool and Everton fans the police and others reduced the number of visiting supporters that were allowed in the ground – this presumably could go further.

Meanwhile, The Daily Mail, commenting today, said that Uefa said action could be taken against the clubs once the match delegate has submitted their report.  They also said that flares were also set off under a bridge near Finsbury Park by Galatasaray fans, and that a huge police presence escorted 3,000 Turkish supporters to the Emirates.

Maybe they were, but while Drew and I were sitting at Piebury Corner having our pies and drinks prior to the match we saw many Galatasary fans walking along Holloway Road in groups with no escort at all.

‘We are aware of a number of flares being ignited and thrown on to the pitch at the Emirates Stadium,’ a police spokesperson told Press Association Sport.  ‘There were also some flares thrown near to the Tollington Arms on Hornsey Road.  ‘Police will be reviewing CCTV footage from inside the stadium and of the surrounding streets.’

So we wait.

But finally on a different front, here’s the team from the under 21 game against the same opposition, which we won 5-1.

Ryan Huddart; Chiori Johnson, Stefan O’Connor (Eliot Wright 67), George Dobson, Tafari Moore (Marc Bola 74); Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Daniel Crowley, Gedion Zelalem; Alex Iwobi (c), Kaylen Hinds (Stephy Mavididi 80), Chris Willock


There’s the usual details of latest articles and anniversaries on the home page

61 Replies to “Emirates under attack. What do we do about flares?”

  1. Tony, my wife threw my flares away in the 80’s after she caught we wearing them to a party.

    On a more serious note, the flares to which you refer should be completely banned as they are dangerous and provide nothing but danger to spectators and players. I cannot find a single reason to support their use.

  2. I was moved from my normal seat to behind the goal at the Clock end, and must admit that I left the ground rapidly as I didn’t want to be anywhere near the pyrotechnic carrying away supporters. Their antics meant I couldn’t concentrate on the game at times yet it would have been just about impossible to have cleared that section of their supporters during the game. They were also throwing stuff into the club seats and boxes above them throughout much of the game. There were two blocks of supporters and as far as I could tell all of the trouble was coming from the one nearest the East Stand.

  3. Tony,
    You seem to imply that UEFA can/has closed the area at a ground where the away support caused trouble. Can this be correct? It’s a bit like like jailing someone for the crime of being burgled……

  4. One question raised last night on the terraces: if that had been English fans abroad throwing flares and other objects onto the terraces, what do you think would have been the outcome?
    Turkish clubs do seem to get a free pass……..

  5. Breaking news in Germany. Poldi has said in an interview on RTL that its time to think about leaving Arsenal, as hes a “full blooded footballer and a street footballer and loves to be competitive and if he doesn’t have it each weekend then its time for a change even though he has a contract till 2016 ” apparently he also thinks its important to think about his future, including the possibility of leaving in Jan. The journalists in Germany think that Wenger thinks that Poldi isnt so good especially in light of Welbeck coming.
    Thats about all Ive got on the gossip front.

  6. Kenneth, you guess RTL is the original source on this? I’ve seen half a dozen articles on Google News today on this, figured they were all made up stories.

    Other news. I just seen a blurb that Ashley (Newcastle?) has increased his stake in Rangers to 9%, and that a French bank has bought 5% of Rangers.

  7. Hi Gord, yes it was the dreaded RTL.Its been running through the equally dreaded NTV news channel.
    Im sure the folks in Cologne will be hoping that Someday their Prinz will come,back! I think that he still wants to play for Germany and Löw’s pretty hot about first team players.

  8. I’m seeing Internet reports that Galatasaray have been charged over this incident and will face a disciplinary panel on Oct 16th along with Dortmund and Basle where there were fireworks and an object thrown. Hope the reports are correct

  9. The fact the the Galasta fans were able to bring flares into the ground is disturbing. It mat be that the time involved in giving each fan a full body search is prohibitive – but are chemical “sniffers” available & would they be suitable?

    Further, where were these flares procured – I can’t see traveling fans picking up a bunch of flares en route across London. So if they were purchased on the continent they would have come across with the fans by ferry, (surely airline security would prevent transport by air – surely?), I don’t think I would want to be on a ferry with a heap of idiots armed with flares.

    Finally, suppose some manic fans turned up with something more lethal than flares (which could be lethal enough) – we do not want a serious injury or fatality – Arsenal would be responsible if that happened – so our security needs to be taken far more seriously.

  10. bjt, it isn’t necessary for anyone to buy them. I just did a quick search, and it seems almost trivial to make them. For one thing, the “container” they are in can be as feable as a toilet paper roll.

  11. @Gord

    Thanks for that, but I would have thought the pyrotechnics/combustion initiators would be more difficult to obtain.

    But even if homemade – the fans should not be able to transport the flares across the channel & into the Emirates.

  12. @proudkev
    Flares, the best pants after the gangster style 50s pants.
    “When one look at pics from then, one always feel that one was crisp looking”.

    Sad that the issue of flares have come to Arsenal now, it was horrifying to see them. In the first instance i thought the stadium had caught fire, which is then a distinct possibility with all the smoke and sparks and ignite powder in the flares.

    One good idea, would be to search all of the away supporters of a club that brings flares, even if this takes all game, and they do not get to see it. I do not think any one would bring a flare then, unless that was his or her only objective all along.

  13. I work on the railway, and although I did not see it myself, my work mates say there fans where causing trouble at stations throughout the day.

    With this in mind Arsenal FC must of been aware of the potential and yet seem powerless, or unwilling to do anything about it.

  14. @BJTGooner

    The first article I found, talks about making the fuses and the flare itself. The flare is mostly composed of two very common ingredients, and the fuse is cotton yarn soaked in the flare material disolved in water and then dried. The fuse can be lit with a match.

    When I was a kid, you could still buy chemistry sets. And gunpowder was something you could make with a chemistry set. The flare isn’t gunpowder, but it is closely related, and the chemistry is maybe 1200 years old.

    Hey, if a write up was in Popular Science, I guess I could publish a link to it?


  15. Hey Jambug, good to see youre back, likewise Boo last night, missed you guys posting!
    COYG! etc

  16. Gosh I hope not. But I really can’t see how it is feasible to search for flares at the entrance to the stadium. It is just too easy for someone to make these things. And it would not be unexpected for someone from Turkey to have considerable experience in producing incendiaries at the moment. Heck, as one ingredient is available inside the stadium, I would imagine it might only take a couple of minutes (in the bathroom?) to put a flare together.

  17. There is a large Turkish community in North London. I can easily see someone calling his cousin in London asking him to procure a job-lot of flares ahead of time for distribution to the travellers on the day.

    In fact, I am unclear how the away tickets were sold – were a number held back for London-based fans (as Walter got a batch for Anderlecht and Dortmund) or did they all go to Istanbul-based supporters?

    I did notice, walking to my gate about 15 minutes before kick off, very long queues outside the away end. It is possible that there was a lot of pressure to admit people quickly as kick off approached? Perhaps it was a deliberate ruse to all turn up late so creating this situation? Perhaps there were not enough turnstiles open (didn’t seem many to me – but unclear if that varied from domestic games)?

    Anyroadup, Arsenal really must be better prepared in future. I expect the club will receive some punishment which may focus minds.

    It is the peaceful away fans I feel sorry for.

  18. @Gord

    You could well be right, but the brightness of the flares suggested something more refined than straight gunpowder.

    While gunpowder may have been around for 1200 years, “black powder” was still used as a burster in some heavy caliber shells into WW1, so it quite a useful explosive.

    With a flare the trick is to get a composition that will burn brightly but not explode.

    I don’t think 5000 Galata fans piled into the bathroom at the Emirates to assemble flares, I am fairly sure the finished articles were smuggled in.

    But, either way, the important thing is to seriously tighten our security and also review our emergency response capability.

  19. Kenneth Widmerpool

    Thanks my friend.

    Sometimes it’s work, but as a rule I tend to lie low when we have a poor result as I cant stand reading the numpties that crawl out of the woodwork at such times.

    I end up getting in rows with them which just makes it worse.

    I love my team and just get disappointed and sad when we have a bad day. The last thing I need is to have to put up with the likes of ‘Cook’ spouting his hatred and bile.

  20. Many places will check your bags but they will not search your person as this would be too intrusive unless you have a reason to do so. As most Turkish/Galatasaray/Everton/Liverpool fans must be seen as innocent, I am sure that pat downs would be extremely unpopular and probably illegal.

  21. I suspect the only way forward would be through UEFA sanctions, limited future away ticket allocations, club to club agreements on banning supporters and an increased police presence perhaps aided by dividing up away supporters into smaller sections to make handling trouble makers easier by law enforcement.

  22. @jambug

    Good to see you posting again. Don’t let the tossers get to you – that is part of their purpose.

    For the rest of us, we all rejoice or mourn together – and still smite the AAAAs!

  23. @GoingGoingooner

    I agree about the intrusiveness of a search. But, I have had to review the fire and some of the aftermath at Bradford City and I can assure you that a body search is preferable to being caught in a disaster like that.

  24. bjtgooner

    Again thanks my friend.

    I know what you mean but sometimes I just cant be asked with them.

    Anyway, on a more positive note how good where our boys last night?

  25. bjt – I agree…I have to admit when I have been to away games I have always managed to get local tickets and thus was never subject to a search…mind you Arsenal supporters only ever jumped up and down and sang all match…do away supporters regularly get patted down at domestic or even international fixtures?

  26. @Going

    I have never been subject to a search in those circumstances, but wouldn’t object if it improves overall safety.


    It was am excellent performance last night, particularly before we went down to 10 men.
    The front line had pace and penetration and looked very dangerous – we played some very exciting football.

    The ref overall was useless – let Galata off with a lot of fouls & failed to send Melo off for a near leg breaker on Sanchez.

  27. Jambug, I understand mate, I feel the same, like BJT said the other day after the Southampton game, better to be dignified in losing (etc).I like it when you and Boo are posting though, especially when the Darth Robsons turn up from the sphyncter-being lagoon.
    Some of the things Ive read about the team and AW this week out and about are really just out of proportion,one bloke Ive been reading on a blog seems to have some severe psychological problems Im mean its really shocking,and a bit krank.But Sally Pally gave a good run down of the type the other day with some wise analysis.I suppose that its part of football and its not going away just part of the game.

  28. Jambug -check out the Welbeck vid that Ranetta put up earlier on this thread, it will give you a good idea.

  29. Don’t know if any of you here on UA have been to a local derby game in Istanbul (Fenerbahce vs Galatasaray or either of those two vs Besiktas). I have – more than once/twice!!!

    Let me tell you what I have seen with my own eyes; shish kebab blades (about 30-40cm in length, quite flexible, and very sharp) taped to peoples legs and still get through the gates and into the stands there!!!

    You can imagine what happens at the end of any of those games!!

    Its WAR there!!!

  30. @bjtgooner
    October 2, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Bitesize highlights have been up all day…the extended not yet.

  31. Well, if prevention turns out to be difficult, and cure is not straightforward, I wish there was a way to raise some Plexiglas panels that isolate the away supporters’ section when the teams with a track record come visit us. I agree it’s extreme, but, it would prevent the offending objects from reaching the ground and the surrounding home supporters, and any damage would be directly imputable to the away club.

    But I agree it’s a practice unheard of, and a dangerous precedent. The closest I’ve seen is having high nets behind the goal, and that’s for the spectators’ safety, not the players’ 😉

  32. How tickets are distributed to away fans is up to the visiting club. For Dortmund we could get tickets as a supportersclub. For Anderlecht even us Arsenal Belgium got zero tickets. Because only a few hundred were given to Arsenal. Much to our big disappointment of course.

    In Dortmund they did a quick body search on each Arsenal supporter. Not a nice thing for someone like me but I can live with it as it gives me a rather safe feeling.

    A story told to me by a good friend. He went to the Emirates last season and as he had some drinks and something to eat for the road he had taken his rucksack with him. The same he uses for his work. In that rucksack he has a little sharp knife that he uses to eat his apple at work.
    In his hurry to leave on Saturday morning he forgot to take the knife out of his rucksack. He remembered it just before he went in and you have to open the bags before you enter the stadium. Standing in line he suddenly remembered the knife. He got in without any problem as they just took a quick look and didn’t look at the bottom of his bag where the knife was.
    He said he sweated like an ox at that moment because he feared that they would not allow him in if they found the knife. The good thing is that he said he will never forget from now on to take the knife out before going to a match.

    In a way this was a happy end as he is a very friendly person with no bad intentions of course. But the sad thing is that this shows that the security is not optimal in and around the Emirates.

  33. And as chairman of the Arsenal Belgium supportersclub I can say that we are pissed off about the decision to not give tickets to supportersclubs and us in particular.

    Reeeaaaalllllyyyyy pissed off.

  34. @Walter

    Good point about the knife – do we introduce metal detectors, chemical sniffers & body searches. We should not have to, but after last night ……?

  35. Breaking fowl news. Demba Ba takes 2 points away from the chickens in UEFA Europa League play. And Yahoo has a story about a chicken supporter, who changed his name to Gary White Hart Lane.


    I didn’t see anything about children in the story. Do they change names along the fowl thread, or the potato thread? Both? I would like to present my son, Leghorn Russet White Hart Lane, and my daughter Silkie Yukon Gold White Hart Lane. 🙂

    I really should quit trying humour, Brickfields does so much better.

  36. With respect to the incendiary sub-thread, in the technical news yesterday (day before?) was something related to the “3D printing” of guns. A company had come up with a CNC milling machine which can finish the fabrication of a “80% bottom block” for an AR-15 in about 1 hour. So, instead of someone 3D printing a gun which MIGHT work once without injuring or killing the operator out of plastic, you get a metal gun which could do at least 600 rounds. No serial numbers. Well, Wired just put up an article, that company sold out of the little CNC things in 36 hours. I guess every NRA member in the USA is going to print themselves up an armoury.

    And here we are, trying to be careful about chemistry related to 1200 year old gunpowder.

    Someone here in Untold said Merson is a Chelsea supporter. Well HITC published a story, where apparently Merson has said that Harry Rednapp is like Wenger. I would say those are fighting words. I think an orangutan has more in common with Wenger than Harry Rednapp. Or any Rednapp, including that dog of Harry’s.


    I couldn’t bring myself to read the story, the title was offensive enough.

    I think HITC is a spinoff of The Guardian?

  37. How could pat downs be not accepted if Arsenal are trying to combat these flares?
    Arsenal should announce that all teams that have brought flares to Arsenal stadium lately, their fans will now be searched at the entrance, even if this causes them to miss the game. I’m sure that this would work.
    Or even easier, reduce the number and keep reducing it until there are hardly any opposing supporters.
    And then very serious punishments for all who are found with flares.

  38. I suppose that Arsenal has to pay for the police that are managing security? If anyone knows how this works, please post.
    I am aware that there are also security companies hired too for stewards etc?
    Who does Arsenal delegate to deal with security and all that stuff.
    It may be interesting to see how Arsenal deals with this.

  39. The solution seems rather obvious tome, but maybe I’m too naive?

    * Clubs, whose supporters bring flares into the ground and use them should be fined a significant sum ($100k quid?) and told their supporters will NOT be permitted into ANY opposition grounds for the remainder of the season. therefore NO tickets will be allocated to them by their opponents.

    * Those same clubs should be forced to play their home games in an empty stadium when playing teams where the above club’s supporters used flares or other nuisance/dangerous paraphernalia.

    It is the Clubs’ responsibility to manage their supporters both at home and away matches. It is the receiving clubs’ obligation to collaborate with the visiting teams to manage this behaviour,up to and including stopping the game. The referee has the authority to suspend or terminate a game where such behaviour occurs and they should coordinate with the stadium management to do so if the situation gets out of hand. As a professional referee, I had one occasion where fans were throwing things at the assistants and the players. I asked the stadium manager to announce that the game would be suspended until such behaviour stopped and that if it continued, I would terminate the game and report it to the league….the behaviour stopped once the stadium management also repeated this threat.

  40. About flares: the Dortmund fans did the same thing in Anderlecht. http://www.hln.be/hln/nl/949/Belgisch-Voetbal/article/detail/2074466/2014/10/03/Kinderen-ingezet-als-smokkelaars-bengaals-vuur.dhtml here you can see a picture of it. And the ridiculously small part of the stadium away supporters get. And the fact that Anderlecht don’t even manage to sell out their home supporters part of the stadium.

    the title of the article is : children being used to smuggle flare in to stadium.

    So whoever is responsible for it at Arsenal should be aware that it might happen again.

  41. Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.

    Albert Schweitzer

  42. Walter – very disappointed re you not getting an allocation. A bit of a kick in the teeth. What is the capacity at Anderlecht?

  43. Pete,

    Around 18.000 for European matches. If you look at the picture of the Dortmund flares in my link you can see that they leave a big gap between home and away supporters in the lower end.
    That is where we could have filled it up…

    There are two ways you can take to look at the situation.
    1. Anderlecht don’t like visiting supporters as you can see it is not just an Arsenal thing as also Dortmund got only a small number of tickets. I have been told that for Arsenal they will only give the upper end and that the lower end will not be used at all.

    2. Since Liverpool came to town some 25 years ago and killed 39 people on their way out the authorities in Belgium are not that keen on having too many English football supporters in town. Hence the warning that Arsenal supporters without tickets who come to near to the stadium will be arrested. The fact that Arsenal supporters are generally well behaved and I have never known any troubles on the times I did European away matches in Belgium, Holland and Germany doesn’t count for the Belgian authorities and Anderlecht it seems. So we are paying the price for the misbehaviour of Liverpool from all those years ago….

    And then to think that they could have moved the match to the King Boudewijn stadium only a few kilometres away from their own ground. That has a capacity of 50.000. I know Anderlecht would only fill it up with some 15.000 people (then couldn’t even sell out their small ground against Dortmund) but that would make it possible for a lot of Arsenal supporters to come to the match. And get tickets.
    In a way it shows that ticket sales are rather irrelevant in the CL for smaller teams who participate. They always get more money just for being in it than they can get from ticket sales.

  44. Walter – thanks for clarifying.

    Will you be able to get to the game one way or another, even if in the home section?

  45. Even as a non-Arsenal fan I find it somewhat ridiculous that UEFA may end up punishing Arsenal for the behaviour of another club’s supporters. If it turns out that Arsenal put the necessary steps in place to search the Galatasaray fans yet some fans managed to sneak their flares in then I don’t know what UEFA expect? Pat down searches can still leave it open for fans to sneak things in and the only way you could ever guarantee that not happening is by carrying out a full strip search of each and every fan but of course that could never happen because it would be a serious infringement on civil liberties plus it would probably take about 2 days to search everyone lol.

    UEFA really are clueless at times – for me, only one club should be punished in all this and it isn’t Arsenal. I shouldn’t be surprised though – this is an organisation that fined City more for being 1 minute late back on the pitch against Sporting Lisbon than the Porto fans that racially abused Mario Balotelli and Yaya Toure in the previous round. This is also an organisation that fined Nicklas Bendtner even more money for daring to wear Paddy Power sponsored underpants during a match in Euro 2012.

  46. You would have to fail me Brickfields, I wouldn’t get spine. I thought all body parts were in latin.

    Did you know that it is harder to tell jokes after you have broken your upper arm? You’ve lost some of your sense of humerus.

  47. The referee was not fit for purpose. The first flare should have drawn a public announcement. The second flare should have emptied the away section of fans. The referee was quick to yellow Melo and quick to Red Schez and ignored the away team fans lighting up the game.

    Every away fan should have been detained by Arsenal security to answer questions and made aware of legal action. Allowing them to go home after 6am the next day providing they behaved during questioning.

  48. @Tony or anyone else

    Sometime in the last 2 weeks(?), Tony wrote an article here, where he mentions in passing some experience at managing a company and hiring employees. I am having trouble finding it. I wanted to quote part of it for something unrelated.

    It would be nice if someone could get a URL to that.


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