Town fan in smoking row
AN AVID football fan was distraught after being kicked out of Portman Road - for smoking outside.Darren Stone, 32, and his friends travelled 200 miles to see his beloved Ipswich Town take on West Brom in a preseason friendly at Portman Road.
AN AVID football fan was distraught after being kicked out of Portman Road - for smoking outside.
Darren Stone, 32, and his friends travelled 200 miles to see his beloved Ipswich Town take on West Brom in a preseason friendly at Portman Road.
But no sooner had the group entered the ground and bought a drink than they were given their marching orders by the stadium stewards.
Mr Stone lives in Bradford and hadn't been to Portman Road to watch a match in the last ten years.
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He said: “I came down with my partner and two of my friends. I've been an Ipswich fan my whole life and one of my friends is a West Brom fan.
“We bought a drink from inside the stadium before the game and went out on to the training pitch so some of us could have a cigarette.”
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Mr Stone had enough time to have a couple of puffs before he was told by a steward to put the cigarette out.
He added: “I did as he said but a few minutes later he returned with two police officers who came over and took our names and addresses. Then they threw us out of the ground!
“I spoke to the club afterwards and their argument was that they had let people know about the regulations two years ago but I haven't been to a game there for ten years.”
Since the smoking ban came into effect in England on July 1 2007, smoking in the open has been banned where it affects bystanders or where there is an inevitable close grouping of people.
That includes bus shelters, football grounds, entrances to office buildings, train platforms and concert venues.
Mick Warden is head of safety and security at Portman Road.
He defended the way Mr Stone was dealt. He said: “When smoking legislation came in last year we started a system of warning people about the restrictions. It wasn't really adhered to properly by people so it was decided by the club that anybody actually caught smoking would be ejected from the ground.
“This season there are public announcements to that effect and we have 48 CCTV cameras around the ground.
“At the beginning of last season there were more than 200 instances of people smoking but that number dropped to between 40 and 60 towards the end of the season.
“Ipswich Borough Council has an enforcement body and the club is liable to a £2,500 fine.”
Meanwhile Mr Stone is still reeling from being kicked out of the only Town game he's seen - or hasn't seen - in the last decade.
He said: “We were treated like criminals. I don't want anyone else to get thrown out without a warning like we did.”
Have you faced a similar situation? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail email@example.com