Clubs were last week informed by letter about the introduction of the “strict liability” rule by the FA, which brings English football into line with the rule for European competitions implemented by UEFA.
The changes were drawn up by the FA after pressure from campaigners and Members of Parliament (MPs) driven by a row of racist, homophobic and anti-semitic incidents in the country’s football.
Earlier this year, an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme revealed undercover footage of fans on terraces shouting abuse. It included West Ham supporters chanting anti-semitic and racist slogans before a game against Tottenham Hotspur last December and homophobic chanting by opposition fans during Brighton & Hove Albion games.
John Mann, the Labour MP and chairman of the all-party parliamentary group against anti-semitism, said: “I have long called for the introduction of strict liability rules and am very pleased the FA is taking action. We must wait for the details but we will, I hope, at last be in step with Europe and the rest of the world.”
The new rules would make clubs responsible for fans’ misconduct even if they had taken steps to prevent it.
A source in the FA confirmed that a club could face sanctions even if incidents were “the result of circumstances over which it had no control”.