'Sprinter stewards' in Premier League plans to combat pitch invaders

EXCLUSIVE: Premier League sets out plans to tackle spate of pitch invasions in emergency meeting… including telling clubs to use specially-trained SPRINTER stewards called ‘pitch runners’

  • Everton’s win over Crystal Palace on Thursday was marred by a pitch invasion
  • Palace boss Patrick Vieira kicked an Everton fan who had been goading him
  • The Premier League has held an emergency meeting to discuss the invasions
  • Clubs have been asked to make sure the pitch runners have footwear with adequate grip 

The Premier League has set out plans to tackle pitch invaders at an emergency meeting – which include the use of specially trained sprinter stewards wearing football boots.

Each side has been told they need to use ‘pitch runners’ – quick-reacting stewards wearing appropriate footwear – whose sole purpose is to keep an eye out for fans who encroach the playing surface.

Clubs have been asked to make sure the pitch runners have footwear which provides ‘the best grip for the conditions’. The chosen stewards should also be facing the pitch at all times, ready to race on should a supporter enter the field of play.

Everton fans invaded the pitch after their 3-2 win over Crystal Palace secured their safety

Following Everton’s dramatic, safety-securing victory over Crystal Palace, Eagles manager Patrick Vieira kicked out when a home supporter taunted him on the Goodison turf.

And plans to deal with mass incursions have also been covered ahead of what promises to be a tumultuous final weekend of the Premier League campaign with the destiny of the title and the final relegation slot still to be decided.

Clubs have been told to identify ‘highest threat areas’ to protect players and officials and to ensure they have clear roles and plans for clearing the pitch ‘in a safe, controlled manner’.

Pre-determined escorts and exit routes should also be implemented, to ensure offenders are kept away from targets. Fans can also expect to hear consistent messaging warning them of the consequences of running onto the pitch.

Palace manager Patrick Vieira kicked out at an Everton fan who had been goading him

Vieira could face FA action for the incident, which occurred on the pitch at Goodison Park

‘The safety of all match participants is of paramount importance and clubs must put all necessary procedures in place to ensure the players, coaching staff and match officials are protected and have safe access and egress to the pitch,’ a letter to clubs seen by Sportsmail stated.

‘The Premier League advises that club pre-match safety briefings with the match officials covers plans for dealing with key issues such as pitch incursions, protests and pyrotechnics.’

It is also understood that further talks on the issue of fan behaviour will be held with the top flight, FA and EFL ahead of the new season.

Concerns have raised over the level of pitch invasions in English football in recent weeks




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