SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: MailOnline finds traces of cocaine on 80 PER CENT of toilets tested at the Manchester and North London derbies – as record number of fans are banned for taking Class A drugs at matches
- Mail Online probe lays bare the extent of drug-taking at Premier League matches
- 80 per cent of toilets at derby games last weekend tested positive for cocaine
- Eight of 10 cubicles swabbed at Tottenham vs Arsenal found traces of the drug
- It was the same at Saturday’s Man United vs Man City derby at Old Trafford
- Thugs high on class A drugs are fuelling an upsurge in football violence
- Police officers described ‘phenomenal’ amount of drugs taken by football fans
By VIVEK CHAUDHARY and JAMES FIELDING FOR MAILONLINE
Eighty per cent of toilets at last weekend’s Premier League derbies tested positive for cocaine, a shocking MailOnline investigation has found.
Our probe discovered that football thugs high on the class A drug are fuelling a terrifying surge in violence at Premier League grounds.
At Sunday’s bad-tempered North London derby, while a mindless Spurs supporter was trying to kick Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale, we swabbed 10 toilet cubicles at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium to find eight showed signs of the illegal substance.
It was the same story at Old Trafford on Saturday at the derby between Man United and City
Of the results, Paul Lewis, chair of the Football Safety Officers Association (FSA), said: ‘I’m not shocked at all by what MailOnline has uncovered. For those of us working in the game, cocaine use at football is very common.’
Mr Lewis, a former police officer, added: ‘It’s happening everywhere, from Premier League games to the non-league level.
‘We regularly receive reports from our members of white powder being discovered in toilets, on the floor of stands and even outside stadiums. The amount of drugs fans are taking is phenomenal at some games.’
At the full-time whistle of the weekend’s North London and Manchester derbies, MailOnline swabbed the toilets at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground detecting widespread traces of the class A drug on surfaces.
Spurs have tried to stop fans from snorting drugs in the toilets by removing the lids from the cisterns.
But that didn’t stop one supporter emerging from a cubicle rubbing his nose having made snorting noises behind the locked door.
In the family block, with young children wandering around accompanied by their parents, our reporter went inside to see white powder still clearly visible on the toilet roll holder.
A quick wipe along the surface and our lab-approved swab instantly turned blue, indicating that traces of the deadly drug were present.
The lab-approved swabs turn blue if traces of the deadly drug cocaine are present
In some cases, cocaine was visible on the top of toilet cisterns and on toilet roll holders
It was the same situation at Old Trafford where tests showed a small shelf above the toilet was being used to rack up lines of cocaine.
The worrying discovery of cocaine use at these Premier League games comes as new police figures showed football banning orders issued in relation to matches in England and Wales have increased notably in the first half of the current season compared to the same period last season.
Data released by the UK Football Policing Unit last week revealed there were 343 banning orders issued between July 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022, an increase of 230 per cent compared to the same period in the 2021-22 campaign.
Incidents involving supporter drug use increased by 42 per cent. From November 10 last year, anyone convicted of either possessing or supplying class A drugs at a regulated game can be subject to a banning order.
A Tottenham fan was photographed appearing to snort a line of drugs on the pitch when they played their final match at White Hart Lane in 2017
There was a huge police operation to keep rival Tottenham and Arsenal fans apart on Sunday
It comes amid a huge surge in football-related violence at all levels, fuelled by drug use
The UK’s top football officer, Chief Constable Mark Roberts, has warned that more fans than ever were taking the drug at games, creating a ‘toxic mix’ of violence.
He said: ‘As we see more violent incidents, cocaine is one of those factors along with alcohol that will make it worse, and make people more violent.’
One supporter also said cocaine at football was so rife that fans even snort it in their seats.
Mr Lewis, a retired police officer who is now responsible for ground safety at Nottingham Forest, added: ‘Cocaine is making fans behave in a more violent way and there’s no doubt that it’s one of the contributory factors to more trouble at games.
There was a huge police presence at the Everton vs Southampton game amid fan protests
‘The drug is being consumed in all parts of stadiums, not just where known trouble makers gather. Drugs are prevalent in society and this has spilled over into football.
‘It’s been going on for more than ten years but it’s only now that it’s getting media attention.’
The FSOA has called on clubs to take more action to prevent cocaine from being consumed inside stadiums.
This includes greater use of sniffer dogs, removing flat surfaces from inside toilet cubicles and spraying surfaces with a special chemical to prevent them being used for the consumption of cocaine.
Mr Lewis added: ‘We welcome tougher legislation which can lead to those using or selling drugs inside stadiums being issued with banning orders but clubs need to develop more effective strategies to combat this problem.
There was a shocking moment when a Tottenham fan kicked Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale in the back following the Gunners’ 2-0 win
The incident saw the fan jump from the stands onto an advertising hoarding and kick Ramsdale in the back as he collected his water bottle.
Richarlison was seen striking Ramsdale in the face which caused tensions to boil over
‘It’s impossible to thoroughly search every single fan that’s going into a stadium. But you can design areas in a certain way making it harder for them to use drugs. And sniffer dogs are also a great deterrent.’
Tottenham Hotspur said in a statement: ‘The Club takes a zero-tolerance approach to drugs in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the increase in drug use is a concerning issue in wider society.
‘The Club works closely with the Metropolitan Police on all drug-related matters and anyone found with illegal substances within the stadium is banned.’
A statement from Manchester United said: ‘Manchester United takes a zero-tolerance approach towards illegal substance abuse and will continue to clamp down on those who seek to bring or use any illegal substances in our stadium.
‘The use of illegal substances in stadiums is a collective issue in our sport, as well as in wider society, and we are committed to working with the relevant authorities to eradicate it from football to ensure Old Trafford remains an inclusive and safe place for all our supporters to come and support the team.’