ABSTRACT

Previous academic research into the legal consequences of football violence focused on the period since the 1980s, re ecting the paucity of investigations into the historical development of punishment as football violence emerged.1 ough a few early studies suggested that football spectators received harsher punishments than other arrestees who committed similar transgressions, the research here reveals how high-level government ministers in uenced police discretion on arrests and magistrates’ sentencing procedures.2 Contemporary research focused on how undercover police operations in the mid-1980s led to the use of excessive charges of conspiracy and a ray in a few highly publicized, symbolic trials.3 e evidence analysed in this chapter, however, illuminates how magistrates and police o cials established novel arrest and sentencing practices replicated across Britain as football violence continued through four decades. Inasmuch as government o cials provided outlines for police work and coordinated between di erent districts across Britain, they also in uenced magistrates’ decisions about acceptable punishment both directly and indirectly. Enacting punishment became an important element in the ‘processual social drama’ government o - cials and police authorities created through criminalizing spectators’ behaviour.4 Police and government authorities in uenced cultural interactions in football by attempting to present the illusion of control by escalating punishment for o ending supporters. While physical space divisions and police tactics worked to prevent violence in an immediate sense, sports governors presented magistrates’ punitive decisions as authoritative and preventative. ough hearings and court cases received less press attention during the 1960s and 1970s than in the late 1980s, they still proved important to government o cials to display authority and illustrate the potential consequences of football disorder. Authorities and sports governors, analysis will show, wanted to ensure that the legal system was seen to punish unruly spectator behaviour as it emerged, presenting excessive punishment as necessary to justice and the maintenance of social order.