As the fallout continues over one of the most shocking incidents of fan violence in British sporting history, the sorry truth for Birmingham City becomes harder and harder to ignore. It is the unfortunate reality for the club that, while there was no shortage of astonishment at the nature of the attack on Jack Grealish, there will be less surprise from the footballing world that a Birmingham fan was involved.
Too often in recent years has the club’s fanbase been undermined by the actions of a small collection of supporters who seem to be doing their utmost to wreck the team’s reputation. For three consecutive years Birmingham have soared to the top of the wrong sort of table, running away with the title for being the worst-behaved crowd in English football.
Figures from November showed that, for the third season in a row, more Birmingham fans were arrested than at any other club in England’s top five leagues. It was not even a close title race, either: 95 Birmingham fans were arrested in 2017-18, with Sheffield United coming second with 62.
A wider context, showing that football-related arrests in England and Wales have more than halved in the past 10 years, should of course be noted. For Birmingham, though, the trouble appeared to be getting worse — until this season, at least. Last season there was a jump of more than 30 per cent in arrests, up from 72 to 95, while more than 70 per cent of those took place at home games.