Pyros (flares, smoke bombs and fireworks) have been banned in British football grounds for many years, but do get smuggled in to matches from time to time (including at Prenton Park) and there is a dangerous misconception that they are a harmless bit of fun. In fact, they are far from it.
Flares are used for marine distress and are specifically designed not to be extinguished easily or quickly. They can burn at temperatures of 1600°C - the melting point of steel – and can cause horrific injury and even death.
In a game in Cardiff in 1993 a supporter called John Hill died after being hit in the chest by a flare at the end of the match. Two men later admitted manslaughter and were jailed.
Mr Hill's death wasn't the first and is unlikely to be the last. In Barcelona Guillem Lazaro, a 13-year-old Spanish boy, was killed when he was hit in the chest by a flare at a stadium in Barcelona and in Brazil a 14-year-old boy died in Brazil from a flare which was thrown at a Corinthians game.
Flares thrown on to the pitch are a particular issue for goalkeepers, who are mostly likely to be in the danger zone. The Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was struck on the back of the head with a flare during a match between Montenegro and Russia, sustaining a neck injury and cuts.
Even if a flare doesn’t strike someone, the smoke (which is designed to be thick and not disperse quickly) is a major immediate problem for asthmatics but is also carcinogenic.
Those trying to put pyros out are also in danger – in one instance a person in full protective gear had 2 of his fingers blown off when he picked up a pyro to move it off the pitch. It is very difficult to tell the difference between pyros which are designed to explode and those which are “just” smoke bombs. It is not fair to put our stewards and police at threat of injury in dealing with them.
Even if no-one gets hurt by a pyro, they cause physical damage which harms the Club. Flares thrown on to the pitch will usually burn a hole in the turf, causing difficulties for the groundsmen and likely to lead to a fine from The FA.
For all these reasons we will continue to take a hard line on pyros. Anyone found bringing one into the ground will receive an automatic stadium ban and will be reported to the police for prosecution. We are not taking this line because we want to be kill joys; we are taking it because we don’t want anyone to be killed or injured.
Thank you for your understanding.