Bans are biggest deterrent to pitch invaders, Wolves goalkeeper claims

Louie Moulden was assaulted on the pitch in August (Donall Farmer/PA) (PA Archive)
Louie Moulden was assaulted on the pitch in August (Donall Farmer/PA) (PA Archive)

Wolves goalkeeper Louie Moulden believes only significant bans will stop pitch invaders – after he was assaulted by a fan last year.

The 21-year-old was confronted by a supporter while playing on loan at Solihull against Southend in the National League in August.

Shrimpers fan Cameron Sparkes fan put his hands on the goalkeeper after running on to the pitch to celebrate a goal.

He was sentenced to a community order, including 100 hours of unpaid work, and was told to pay Moulden £250 in compensation at a hearing at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court in December.

He was also given a three-year football banning order.

Figures from UK Football Policing Unit show pitch invasions were down 39 per cent between July 1 and December 31 last year and Moulden feels the punishment must fit the crime.

The England Under-19 international told the PA news agency: “Where the authorities have improved this year, look at the sentences and the bans people are getting, that’s going to be the deterrent.

“It’s really hard to physically stop someone from going on the pitch if they’re intent on doing it but if you look at the punishment this person received for a push that is going to be the biggest deterrent to people.

“It says ‘if you want to come onto the pitch and cause someone harm that’s what you’ll get’.

“It’s really difficult for the authorities and the police to do much in the situation. In the National League it’s impossible to have a full line of police around the pitch.

“There’s a steward every 15-20 yards but, even at National League where there’s a barrier as high as your waist, it’s going to be tough to stop people getting on pitch.”

Moulden was not the only flashpoint last year with a custodial sentence imposed on a Leicester fan who assaulted three Nottingham Forest players during an FA Cup match in February.

Cameron Toner was sentenced to four months in youth custody having admitted three charges of assault by beating.

A Forest season ticket holder, Robert Biggs, was also given a 24-week jail term and a 10-year banning order for headbutting Sheffield United player Billy Sharp during the Championship play-offs in May.

“Despite the fact it’s in the public domain and people pay to watch it’s ultimately our workplace,” added Moulden, who has returned to Molineux after his six-month loan at Armco Arena ended.

“When something like that happens it ultimately harms performance, which is what we get paid for.

“I’ve only played National League so far but I’ve been on Premier League match days and the pressure is big enough without having people coming onto the pitch and putting your safety at risk.

“That’s the big one. Really we should be free to play and feel safe when doing so. I was quite lucky he didn’t physically harm me.

“Luckily, I got away with it and it’s just a story I can tell but in another scenario, he comes on the pitch, he’s had too much to drink and can really hurt someone.”

Moulden donated his compensation to the Solihull Moors Foundation with the money going to support the families of the four young boys who drowned in Babbs Mill Lake, Solihull, before Christmas.

He said: “It was the time and the nature of the accident, it was shocking. Just before Christmas it was really tragic.

“The club put on a collection and obviously everyone in the club was devastated to hear about such a tragic thing happening. We just want to offer support.”