By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Supporter behaviour at Newcastle United home fixtures has continued to improve, according to new figures released today (Thursday).
Of the near-one million fans who attended the 21 Premier League, cup and friendly games at the Sports Direct Arena during the 2011/12 campaign, there were just 38 arrests and 93 ejections.
Those 38 arrests - which work out at 1.80 per match - were a decrease of more than half the amount from the 2010/11 season (78) and a further reduction from the Championship-winning season (92).
And there was a similar trend with ejections from the stadium. Last season's 93 - 4.42 per fixture - were a significant decrease on ejections in both the 2010/11 (152) and 2009/10 (229) seasons.
The Club's Head of Safety and Security, Steve Storey, believes the Magpies' impressive performances on the pitch - which saw United qualify for the Europa League with a fifth-placed Premier League finish - have had a big impact on the mood on Tyneside.
And he insists the figures prove that the Sports Direct Arena is an increasingly-safe place to watch football.
"Supporter behaviour has improved markedly over the last season, and has improved for two seasons running. It provides a much better customer experience for the fans," Storey told nufc.co.uk.
"We have one of the largest family enclosures in the Premier League, and this is great news for families - it's a safe stadium to bring your kids to. It is not how it used to be and the trend is going in the right direction.
"There is direct correlation between good performance on the pitch and spectator behaviour. As the team has been getting better, so have the fans. You can understand why that is, because there is less frustration, less angst, less conflict and happier fans.
"But it is not just because things are good on the pitch. We have taken more responsibility as a stewarding operation to deal with the area between the home and away fans with the policing support.
"We get great support from Northumbria Police, and when our stewards identify situations and incidents they deal with it and we get good results."
While United are delighted with the behaviour of fans within the ground and the subsequent figures, Storey was keen point out that sanctions will remain tough on supporters who misbehave.
"We had plenty of quiet, peaceful good games last season but our tough, firm stance will remain on anything that is reported to us," he said.
"We have a confidential text reporting system, for which the details can be found in the matchday programme. There is also an operation where we put plain-clothed stewards into seats to listen and watch and identify situations, and things like this are very important to us.
"But overall we created a fabulous atmosphere at every home game last season, and long may it continue.
"I would like to thank the supporters for making it a much safer, better environment to come and watch football and bring your family to.
"The bottom line is that our stadium is a safe place to come to, which is getting safer every season. If we can keep these figures heading in the right direction next season then it would be absolutely fantastic."
|Average arrests per match||3.84||3.71||1.8|
|Total Home arrests||40||33||16|
|Total Away arrests||52||45||22|
|Average ejections per match||9.54||7.24||4.42|
|Total Home ejections||141||89||64|
|Total Away ejections||88||63||29|