THERE has been a worrying increase in the number of flares and smoke bombs let off at football matches, according to a new report. A survey, commissioned by the Premier League, found that 86 per cent of supporters are concerned for their safety – with 96 incidents of pyrotechnics being reported across the Premier League, Football League, Football Conference and domestic cup competitions during the first three months of the season. This is a huge rise as, for the whole of the 2012-13 season, 172 incidents were reported while, the previous season, there were just 72 recorded incidents. Earlier this season, then Palace manager Ian Holloway criticised the Eagles supporters who let off a smoke bomb in the away end at Anfield, at the start of Palace's 3-1 defeat to Liverpool. However, the report shows Palace fans are far from the worst offenders – with Everton, Man Utd, and Wigan fans involved in five 'flare-related incidents' so far this season. Liverpool, Man City and Sheffield United fans have been involved in four incidents. Cathy Long, head of supporter services at the Premier League, told the BBC: "It's the biggest concern we've got among fans at the moment "There have been incidents across the world where people have had bad injuries or died. "We've been lucky that our leagues haven't had such major issues yet, but we want to stop that from happening." Pyrotechnics are common place in European grounds but a relatively new trend in English stadia. After the Palace vs Liverpool incident, Ian Holloway told the Advertiser: Why is it acceptable to do it at a football ground? It can endanger someone's health. "With all that smoke, smoke's a killer. I don't understand how some fans think it's a good idea."
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