Police warn small minority of Chorley FC fans to extend warmer welcome to away supporters

Ch Insp Gary Crowe said some Magpies fans had chosen to have "a bit of sport" with away supporters
Ch Insp Gary Crowe said some Magpies fans had chosen to have "a bit of sport" with away supporters
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Chorley FC fans caught being aggressive towards visiting supporters will have to sign a pledge to change their attitude - or face a ban from the club.

Lancashire Constabulary has been issuing so-called ‘acceptable behaviour contracts’ after recent incidents “grabbed the force’s attention”, according to Temporary Chief Inspector Gary Crowe.

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A scrutiny committee at Chorley Council heard that the club was assisting with attempts by police to tackle a small minority of thuggish supporters.

Members were told of one instance in which a home fan tried to “attack” a rival supporter - directly in front of an officer.

“He couldn’t see the problem,” Ch Insp Crowe said. “He told my colleague, ‘It’s just a bit of football rufty-tufty’.”

“Well, that’s not how it works in Chorley.”

Anybody identified as having caused a problem will be given a warning about their conduct and invited to sign a commitment to behave themselves in future. If they breach the contract, they could be banned from attending Magpies' matches.

“Chorley FC is aware that some individuals are being a little more lairy than the club is comfortable with,” Ch Insp Crowe said.

“This more loutish element has recently decided to have a little bit of sport with away fans, but we are taking punitive action against them.

“If we ultimately have to bring them before the courts, we can say that we have tried to sort it out between ourselves, but it hasn’t worked,” the senior officer added.

Chorley FC chairman Ken Wright played down the problem and said he was aware of only one incident.

The town hit the headlines earlier this year after the local council was deemed to have outlawed football fans who were passing through Chorley en route to matches elsewhere in the North West.

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A letter sent to football clubs across the country suggested that groups of travelling fans would no longer be welcome to stop off in the borough, after a series of incidents of anti-social behaviour sparked complaints from local businesses.

Chorley Council immediately moved to clarify the situation, saying that all fans were welcome as long as they were well-behaved.

Responding to the current police operation to deal with any disorderly home fans, Cllr Peter Wilson, deputy leader of Chorley Council, said: “If there are Chorley fans causing problems in the town centre, then we will work with the police and the football club to try and stop things escalating.

“The team has been doing brilliantly well this season and we want the focus to be on what’s happening on the pitch not off it.”

Ch Insp Crowe told committee members that “as long as the problem persists, so will our presence”.