Preston North End have warned supporters they could face lengthy bans if caught using pyrotechnics at games after a firework injured a fan.
The message from club officials follows an incident at the end of the team’s 1-0 victory away at Shrewsbury Town on Sunday, when a man is said to have suffered a burn on his leg.
A firework is alleged to have been thrown by a PNE fan upon the final whistle, landing among fellow supporters at the New Meadow stadium.
After the match witnesses took to a fans’ forum and www.lep.co.uk to complain about the firework, with one poster saying it burnt a hole in his jeans and left him with “a burn around the size of a 50p”.
He said: “It landed on my calf, less than a foot from two young kids.”
One fan, who has been watching North End for more than 50 years and did not wish to be named, told the Evening Post that pyrotechnics had become more common at away games since a fixture at Crewe last season, and that there were also two incidents at Carlisle on Boxing Day.
He said the firework was in a brown paper bag and landed next to him and his 12-year-old son.
He said: “This was really loud - it wasn’t a smoke bomb, it was some sort of exploding firework.
“The guy next to my son was hopping about holding his leg and he had a burn on the side of his calf. The woman next to him limped out when she walked past us.
“My son was really frightened. It exploded right behind the head of a four-year-old girl.
“It was too far away to have been thrown by Shrewsbury fans.
“Whoever is responsible I think they are absolutely brainless idiots - they are risking the life and limbs of their own and other fans.”
Another user on www.pne-online.net said the “banger” was thrown by a PNE fan at the back of the middle section behind the goal.
They said: “Stewards behind the goal pointed out the area from where it was thrown. Hope CCTV can pick them out.”
One fan commented: “I personally hate the things and I really think people should be searched properly on the way to the turnstiles to make sure they aren’t taken into stadiums.”
Another supporter added: “Long football bans and a stint at Her Majesty’s pleasure might make them think twice. Hope they get named and shamed.”
While another said: “The pyro was disgusting and has just about put off everybody I was stood with from ever going away again.”
Preston North End said it had a “zero-tolerance” policy against pyrotechnics and that a couple of supporters were already serving “very long bans” for their use.
A club spokesman said: “Pyrotechnics are very dangerous. If it is proved or we find out that a fan has pyrotechnics, then they will face a very lengthy ban from coming and watching us.
“We’ve got a zero tolerance policy on this and we do work very closely with the Football League and Lancashire Police, who have spotters at every single game.
“We have a fantastic away support, we’ve had two sell-outs on the road this festive period and the atmosphere they create is magnificent, so we don’t want a small number of people damaging the reputation of what is a fantastic following.”
Alan Roberts, Shrewsbury Town’s stadium manager and safety officer, observed the incident in the ground’s control room and said he had reported it to West Mercia Police after viewing it on CCTV.
He said: “It wasn’t a smoke bomb or a flare, it was like a thunder flash.
“It was really loud and you could see kids in the area with their fingers in their ears.
“Whoever did this had no regard for the safety of the people around them.
“I will be liaising with the police and I will be liaising with other safety officers where Preston will play this season, so Preston fans may find they will be searched more regularly and a lot more thoroughly than usual as a knock on effect.”
In August last year PNE fans let off fireworks at Burnley’s Turf Moor stadium during a Capital One Cup tie.
A smoke bomb was also let off on a train taking supporters to the game, causing damage to a toilet.
In October two men were arrested after an assistant referee was struck by a smoke bomb during a Premier League clash between Aston Villa and Tottenham.
In May a 15-year-old boy suffered lung damage from a smoke bomb thrown by Villa fans at Wigan Athletics’s DW Stadium, while two women aged 22 and 24 also required medical attention.
Three months earlier a 14-year-old boy was killed by a flare thrown by fans during a South American Libertadores Cup match between San Jose and Corinthians in Orouro, Bolivia.