Magpies president Eddie McGuire has linked drug use at the football to a rise in crowd violence. Picture: AAP Image/Daniel Pockett.
Magpies president Eddie McGuire has linked drug use at the football to a rise in crowd violence. Picture: AAP Image/Daniel Pockett.

Eddie: Fighting fans using ice the ‘big issue’ in footy

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has blamed drugs for increasing fan violence at the football.

The AFL was plagued by ugly incidents in the stands last season, prompting the introduction of patrols by "behavioural awareness officers" at Marvel Stadium.

Speaking at Collingwood's annual members forum on Friday night, McGuire told a concerned supporter that some troublemaking fans were taking the drug ice.

"The big issue in football at the moment - and the community - is that people get on ice at the footy," McGuire told the crowd.

"There's not much I can do about that, except to say we're aware of it.

"There's that, there's the alcohol, there's the whole business.

"We have asked for extra security in places and what we find is that because the MCG is a big ground, people tend to get a ticket - and this is not an excuse, it's a reason - and move around and stand where they want to form their own grog squad, drug squad, idiot squad, whatever the case may be.

 

Police patrol while fans watch AFL action at Marvel Stadium. Picture: Sarah Matray
Police patrol while fans watch AFL action at Marvel Stadium. Picture: Sarah Matray

 

"We share your pain and what you've seen. We must look after our supporters.

"We can't get to the stage where men and women of good faith aren't prepared to bring either their grandparents or kids to the footy and we have to get on top of it."

A spate of fights at matches during the 2019 season prompted concerns that the game was no longer safe for families.

Mr McGuire said the Pies had met with the Melbourne Cricket Club and Victoria Police in a bid to reduce the number of assaults.

Collingwood chief executive Mark Anderson confirmed that the memberships of some misbehaving Magpies supporters had been suspended as the club took a hard-line approach to violence in the outer.

 

Police interjecting in an incident during a match last season between Carlton and the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images.
Police interjecting in an incident during a match last season between Carlton and the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images.

 

McGuire said: "We're on top of this."

"We have spoken to the MCC. They have changed the way they're going about it.

"We collectively went to them and said 'you've got your security wrong, there's a lot of kids and older people (as staff) who are doing a good service, checking tickets and telling you where to sit, but when it all starts to go, it's really hard for them because they're not trained in that situation'.

"We saw last season there was too much bad crowd behaviour. The thing we hold dearest to our hearts in the AFL community is that you go to the football, 100,000 people, Collingwood-Richmond, two great tribes going at each other.

"At worst, at the end of the day, you have to buy your mate a Tattslotto ticket. That's the way it's got to be."

Victoria Police Commander Tim Hansen said in May that police data showed an increase in incidents involving intoxication and a rise in the prevalence of drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine.

But league boss Gillon McLachlan denied crowd violence was at an all-time high, pointing to a lower eviction rate than previous years.

"We must keep our game safe and family friendly. We have been the family game, the passionate game," McLachlan said in June.

"We have to listen to our supporters. That is our responsibility."

sam.edmund@news.com.au

News Corp Australia


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