Little thought was given by the government and the Cyprus Football Federation (CFA) to the way crowd trouble would be handled at football matches after recent events.

After a firecracker fired from the stand had hit a player the previous week, the CFA under pressure from the government which wanted something to be done about the trouble decided there would be no away fans at first and second division matches.

The away side would only be allowed to take 50 people, such as club officials and players not included in the matchday squad; for second division matches the away side’s delegation would be restricted to 25. It is unclear how long this school-type punishment of the fans will remain in place, a punishment that will remove the atmosphere and excitement from a match, while giving a big advantage to the home side. Once the president had become personally involved in the matter and expressing opinions – he had also mentioned the possibility of suspending the league – the CFA had to take some action.

Inevitably, at the last match, before the ban on away fans came into force on January 26, there was crowd trouble. Opposing fans gathered outside the new stadium in Limassol and fired flares at each other; there were also some scuffles which the police broke up. There was also a pitch invasion by fans before the start of the match combined with the firing of flares and firecrackers. This happened despite the presence of 340 police officers inside the ground, 60 outside and, according to the police, body searches of fans entering the ground. That 340 officers were unable to control the fans inside the ground was astonishing.

Four hundred officers were deployed, and a special police centre was set up to monitor the situation, but in the end the match was called off before a ball was kicked on the advice of the police. The policing may have failed on Wednesday night, but it is a big mistake to place all the responsibility on the force. The clubs whose fans are involved in causing trouble and who have the responsibility for ensuring the safety of fans must be held accountable for what happens and made to pay the price. It is unfair that a club whose fans cause do not trouble are deprived of gate receipts because of the away fans ban.

Why should the taxpayer pick up the policing bill and pay the cost for the damage caused, while the clubs suffer no consequences, apart from losing gate receipts because of the away fans ban? And what is the guarantee there would be no firecrackers and flares fired during a match if there are no away fans?

A much better way to eradicate crowd trouble is to hold clubs responsible when it happens and fine them. Only then would each club ensure there are enough stewards to carry out searches of fans and ensure no firecrackers and objects that can be thrown on the pitch are taken into the ground. And if there is a need for 400 police officers to ensure against trouble at a match, the home club should pay the policing bill.

Making the clubs whose fans cause trouble to pay the cost is the only way to tackle crowd trouble. Only if there is a price for the clubs will they ensure their supporters behave.