10,000 criminals, pictured this afternoon
Of course, every person represented in tiny pixels on that pitch were breaking the law under the Football Offences Act 1991.
It is an offence for a person at a designated football match to go onto the playing area, or any area adjacent to the playing area to which spectators are not generally admitted, without lawful authority or lawful excuse (which shall be for him to prove).I'm not sure "being mad fer it chuffed" would count as a lawful excuse, more's the pity.
Now, I've been to that stadium once and witnessed first hand how the obsession with crowd control under the 1991 Act results in attendees being unable to see the pitch celebrations behind a wall of six foot coppers and charmless stewards. The suppression of natural exuberance by the stroke of a risk-petrified statist pen leads to the detriment of just about everybody.
Even the act of standing the kids on concrete blocks at the front of the stand was denied because of 'health and safety', so their view of some historic scenes was relegated to gazing at the hi-viz jackets and flared nostrils of jobsworths and government-empowered enforcers.
Obedience, it seems, trumps the entire point of going to live - and expensive - sporting events, that being the utter, liberating, unrestrained and cathartic joy of success. Government says so, see?
Previously, on the pitch, the same pointless unthinking 'authority' had showed itself.
Manchester City had just come back from behind, scoring two goals in extra time to win a Championship - something never seen before in football history, and probably never likely to be seen again - and the goal-scorer was penalised for over-exuberant celebration!
Can there possibly be such a thing?
I'm sure there are occasions where all-encompassing powers might be required, but today proves that those with authority over our lives are too ignorant of the human condition to wield them.
Like a diver rising to the surface slower than the slowest bubble to avoid the bends, modern authority condemns us all to be considered as the worst possible miscreants to avoid the inconvenient need to apply judgement. We must all suffer a less joyful life in order for a pitifully few in charge to feel like they are doing something useful.
As someone who is more of a cricket and rugby fan, I can't quite place when the casual pitch strolls onto the playing area at the end of test matches and five nations battles were stopped, but it's probably around the same time football soiled its trousers enough for some MP to massage his ego with overweening legislation.
Granted, Manchester police will be unlikely to prosecute those on the pitch today, but probably only because there are too bloody many of them to justify spending the money. The fact that the law is there at all just shows that we could do with a lot less government than we have now. After all, encroaching on the pitch as a crime is just one of thousands of pathetic over-reactions they have come out with in the past few decades.
One day, we might see some balance in law-making from our unanimously authoritarian parliamentary parties, but that day is nowhere on the horizon as far as I can see. If they would just sit down and throw out the odd bit of daft stuff every now and then, it would be encouraging.
Repealing laws which dictate what behaviour a business owner can allow on his own property - like the Etihad - would be a start. Just saying.