Idiots, berks, fools, thugs, hooligans… call them what you like, but there’s no doubt there was a triple threat of moronic behaviour from some football “fans” at the weekend.
It began on Friday, when Rangers captain James Tavernier was physically confronted by a Hibs supporter who had vaulted over the Easter Road advertising hoardings. Then on Sunday a Birmingham City fan stormed the pitch and threw a cowardly punch at Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish from behind.
The shocking weekend of behaviour was rounded off by an Arsenal supporter running onto the pitch and shoving Man Utd’s Chris Smalling after the Gunners went 2-0 up.
Absolutely shocking scenes at Birmingham.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) March 10, 2019
While all incidents were terrible to see, the reprehensible assault on Jack Grealish stands out as the very worst of these dreadful episodes. As the Football Association made clear afterwards, a line had been crossed.
So it was entirely unsurprising to see the Birmingham thug promptly thrown behind bars for 14 weeks the very next day. In delivering their verdict, magistrates said the prison sentence “should be a deterrent” for any so-called supporters thinking about doing similar.
However, given this isn’t the first time this sort thing has happened – or that someone has been sent down for it – the threat of being jailed for these dangerous actions clearly isn’t enough.
But what else can be done to genuinely discourage any fans from entering the field of play? Well, there’s a few options…
Put offenders in a pillory
If modern punishments like electronic tags and prison sentences are no longer proving effective, it’s about time we got medieval on these fools.
A good old-fashioned pillory could be constructed outside a club’s home ground, where genuine fans could rock up and launch rotten fruit at those who bring shame upon their team. We’re certain there’d be no shortage of takers.
To add to the immediate public shame and humiliation, these days this form of corporal punishment would have repercussions long after the perpetrator is freed. Inevitably, every grim splat will be documented all over social media for eternity and, even more embarrassingly, they could end up featuring on Arsenal Fan TV.
How on earth could anyone ever live that down?
Force them to listen to Ryan Giggs’ team talks
These hyperactive pitch invaders clearly need a lot of calming down, and there’d be no better way to achieve that than by listening to Giggs’ “motivational” pep talks on repeat, 24/7, for the duration of their sentence.
As you can see in the video below, the mind-numbing effect of this will be instantly noticeable, with the monotonous droning quelling any sense of enthusiasm for doing anything on a football pitch.
And just to add salt into the wounds, any idiot stupid enough to charge on to the pitch will also be forced to save their girlfriend’s number on the Welshman’s phone.
That should keep them nicely fixed in their seats come matchday.
Become the UK’s new Brexit negotiator
2019’s equivalent of metaphorically banging your head against a brick wall – but actually every bit as painful as doing it for real.
To really punish the pitch invaders, what better way is there than to subject them to a never-ending tortuous loop of meetings, negotiations, public statements and relentless criticism from just about everyone in the country as they try to negotiate the UK’s withdrawal from the EU?
Thinking about it, it’s actually probably worth giving them a crack at the job anyway. They can’t do much worse than what we’ve had to endure already, can they?
Have Mike Dean referee their club’s matches indefinitely
This particular additional deterrent very much applies to the clubs themselves. Who knows what damage could be done with football’s original celebrity ref, Mike Dean, handing out red cards and penalties for fun at your expense all season long?
With this genuine threat hanging over clubs, it should lead to the necessary drastic action being taken to ensure all fans are well behaved. That could mean banning alcohol in grounds, setting up barbed wire hurdles around the pitch to prevent would-be aggressors from getting any ideas, or hiring thousands of stewards to individually man-mark every single supporter in the stadium.
Expensive? Indeed. Worth it? Oh yes – and then some.