Crystal Palace Football Club risked the anger of their most loyal fans when they issued a statement late last night effectively banning banners from Selhurst Park unless they had been passed for approval in advance by the club.
With Palace due to host Aston Villa at Selhurst Park tomorrow, the club statement, issued at 10pm last night, applies strict new rules on all fans’ banners “with immediate effect” and threatens a stadium ban for “any supporters putting up any unauthorised banners”.
Eagles fans have a well-earned reputation for creating a vibrant atmosphere within Selhurst Park, often off-putting to opposing sides. Much of that comes from the devoted Ultra followers in the Holmesdale end, who have earned the admiration of rival supporters for producing a series of elaborate banners, many of which display social conscience not normally associated with football, some of which have been critical of the Premier League and the inherent greed in modern football.
“It’s the end of protesting against the Premier League,” the editor of one Palace fanzine told Inside Croydon this morning. “The club will deem it ‘offensive’ for sure.”
“We’ll all be sitting in silence like Stoke and Man City fans in no time,” said another.
The Draconian measures have been justified by the club on health and safety grounds, and require 10 days’ notice of any banner that fans propose to take into the ground, its size and how it is to be displayed. But an additional requirement by the club that they need to examine the content of the banners has led some supporters to an easy conclusion that the club is using this for a form of censorship to avoid offending the Premier League or, perhaps more significantly, their paymasters at broadcasters BT Sport and Sky.
“The banner itself must be totally compliant with all safety regulations including fire retardancy and its content must not be offensive in the opinion of the club,” the club’s conditions state.
“Any supporters putting up any unauthorised banners will face a club stadium ban.
“The club will assist wherever it can to make the use of banners possible but recognise that putting supporters safety at risk is simply not an option.”
Inside Croydon has been unable to establish whether there is any truth in the suggestion that, “with immediate effect”, the club shop will have in stock a range of CPFC-approved official banners, which offer extra loyalty points on all purchases and a 10 per cent discount for club members.
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