'Love football, protect the game' - joint message as Leeds United, Sheffield United, Middlesbrough FC, Rotherham United, Huddersfield Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley FC, Bradford City and Harrogate Town approach D-days

The Premier League, Football League, Football Association and Football Supporters Association have urged fans to stay in the stands as the English game's big issues are deciding in the coming weeks.
INVASION: Nottingham Forest fans invade the pitch after winning the their Championship play-Off semi-final against Sheffield UnitedINVASION: Nottingham Forest fans invade the pitch after winning the their Championship play-Off semi-final against Sheffield United
INVASION: Nottingham Forest fans invade the pitch after winning the their Championship play-Off semi-final against Sheffield United

It follows a number of incidents at the end of last season, including some involving Yorkshire clubs, where the mark was overstepped.

Pitch invasions used to be a common way to celebrate promotions, title, and even escaping relegations in the past but are now illegal, and fans are being urged to remember that.

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Because although the vast majority coming onto the field simply want to celebrate, their were ugly scenes after some games last season.

Sheffield United's Billy Sharp was assaulted by a Nottingham Forest fan after his side were knocked out of the Championship play-offs on penalties at the City Ground and fighting broke out between a handful of rival fans as Rotherham United celebrated promotion to the second tier at the expense of relegated hosts Gillingham.

Huddersfield Town were fined for a pitch invasion which angered opposition manager Nathan Jones as they knocked Luton Town out to reach the Championship play-off final.

Stronger sanctions against pitch invasions and the use of pyrotechnics were introduced as a result.

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With that and other incidents in mind, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters and his counterparts Trevor Birch (Football League), Mark Bullingham (FA) and Kevin Miles (Football Supporters Association) have penned a joint appeal with director of the women's professional game Kelly Simmons and Jack Pearce, chair of the FA's alliance committee for supporters to "Love football, protect the game."

"The passionate support of fans is a vital part of what makes football so special in this country," they wrote. "It is completely understandable that emotions run high, particularly at this stage of the season when there is so much to play for.

"However, we must remind supporters that in the interests of safety and wellbeing for everyone inside our stadiums, the pitch is for players, managers and officials, while the stands are there for fans to support their team.

"At the end of last season, we witnessed some unwelcome scenes when fans entered the field of play without permission at several grounds. Even if this is done in celebratory fashion, any supporter who comes onto the pitch is breaking the law and putting the welfare of players, coaches, club staff and fellow fans at risk.

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"We know that this unacceptable behaviour is carried out by a minority of fans, and their actions do not represent most supporters, but they risk ruining the fantastic experience of a football match for everyone.

"At the start of this season, the Premier League, EFL, NLS Leagues and The FA worked with the Football Supporters’ Association to introduce new measures and stronger sanctions to tackle anti-social and criminal behaviours, such as entering the pitch and the use of pyrotechnics.

"This includes automatic club bans and police action, and we have seen cases this season which have led to fans receiving criminal records. This can impact employment and education prospects, restrict ability to travel overseas, and could result in a prison sentence. Club bans can also extend to accompanying parents or guardians of children who take part in this activity.

"Our message is clear: fans must stay in the stands and avoid any unnecessary disruption at such a crucial point of the season."

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Nine Yorkshire league clubs – Leeds United, Sheffield United, Middlesbrough, Rotherham United, Huddersfield Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley, Bradford City and Harrogate Town – could be celebrating promotion or avoiding relegation between now and the end of May.