The ugly spectre of crowd violence has returned to English football.

Anyone at Wembley on July 11 will remember the day not for football but for boozed-up, drug-fuelled hooligans bringing shame on the nation in what was supposed to be England’s finest hour.

The Football Association can count themselves lucky with what is effectively a one-game stadium ban, an £85,000 fine and the huge knock-on losses of having to play a game behind closed doors.

That is because Wembley that day was a terrifying place, a return to the bad old days of drunken yobs running amok with violence, threats and anger in the air.

What is perhaps even more worrying is that is becoming a regular occurrence up and down the country and abroad in not just football but also at racing.

England have been fined and banned after the ugly scenes before the Euro 2020 final at Wembley (

Image:

Reuters)

There were an estimated 250,000 people at Wembley for England’s Euros final with Italy three months ago when ticketless fans rushed the turnstiles, it was overrun with thugs and the authorities lost control.

It was a shocking, shameful day which paints a terrible picture for English football and their ability to host a major tournament either for the 2030 World Cup, 2028 Euros or any major European final.

Perhaps just as troubling is that this was not a one-off. It was a grim day - but it highlighted the growing problem of some of the worst scenes that football has endured since the 1980s when hooliganism was at its worst.

Leicester City’s Europa League clash saw appalling clashes with Napoli fans who came to England for trouble - and got what they wanted.

A year ago, violence flared between Southampton and Portsmouth fans while Wigan and Bolton fans clashed and made headlines earlier this season. These are regular occurrences up and down the country.

Hungarian ultras were joined by hardcore Polish supporters at Wembley last week to cause problems after England players complained they were targeted for racist abuse in Budapest and Warsaw.

Now, England have been punished, the UEFA sanction after the Euros final is a truly dark day for English football.

The rest of Europe often looks at England as being arrogant, trying to lecture everyone else on how to behave and on racism.

But, as even Gareth Southgate has said before, they will have to get their own house in order before they can start thinking about telling others how to behave.

English football has lost control.

Hooliganism is seeping back into English football (

Image:

PA)

Supporters of the Big Six rose up in protest at the European Super League at the end of last season and, while their point was well made, it could not entirely excuse the trouble which went with it.

Manchester United had to abandon their game with Liverpool because of the scenes outside - and Old Trafford is already on red alert for this weekend.

There is a nasty, snarling and threatening menace to football fans again - and the authorities are at a loss of what to do.

It may be fuelled by a post-Brexit generation with fed-up supporters angry at what they see unfolding in England and beyond.

So-called supporters descended on Wembley that day in July with the intention of causing trouble. After months of being cooped up because of Covid lockdowns, they were let off the leash and in the mood to cause mayhem.

The FA must take responsibility for not ensuring the stadium was policed well enough, not enough stewards were on duty inside to stop thousands of ticketless yobs forcing their way in.

But outside, the local authority and police got it horribly wrong. They misjudged the darkening mood of the yob and hooligan culture which is threatening the very heart of our beautiful game once more.

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