Great Yarmouth Town FC banned from using drones for safety reasons
Once limited to the world of science-fiction, James Bond or wildlife shows like Planet Earth, drones are becoming a far more common sight.
However now they have been shown the red card after one was used to record a football match – leading to a rebuke from the FA.
A drone was used to film a match at Great Yarmouth Town’s historic ground in Wellesley Road last month.
It was hoped the drone could be used to provide analysis of players performance to help the Eastern Counties League Premier Division side, who are currently placed sixth.
However plans were grounded this week when the club was banned from using a drone by the FA, who cited safety concerns.
Joint first team manager Martyn Sinclair said the filming took place on Saturday, January 21 when the Bloaters were playing Clacton at home.
The drone, said to be “about the size of a dustbin lid” flew at least 150ft above the ground and provided a very good view of the whole area.
He said the club had been approached by a local company wanting to demonstrate what it could do when it came to recording a game of football and that the filming was “a one off.”
The operator of the drone, Rory Buttle from Sky Vertical, said it was a shame for professional operators like himself who has all the licenses and qualifications needed to safely operate a drone.
He said he spoke to officials and players beforehand and informed them what was going on and stayed safely away from the action on the pitch.
A spokesman for the FA pointed to information from the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA), which is based on guidance from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The SGSA lists risks as including:
• Loss of control of the drone over spectators,
• Loss of control of the drone over or near a structure or building,
• Potential disruption to the sporting event, and possible consequences of that disruption,
• Potential terrorist activity.
The fixture saw the Bloaters clad in pink for charity and the match went on to raise £500 and it finished 1-1.
According to The Coaching Manual website, drones are one of the fastest growing technologies currently being used in football.
They have emerged as a great way to observe player or team performance as analysts and coaches predominantly work off a tactical wide angle for their video analysis requirements, which needs a high level of elevation.
• Bradford City game - Two drones flew over Bradford City’s stadium during a match against Bristol Rovers last September. It resulted in the match being suspended to ensure the safety of spectators, players and officials.
• Albania v Serbia qualifier - The Euro 2016 qualifying match in Belgrade in October 2014 was abandoned with the score goalless after fighting broke out between players, fans and team officials. The brawl, which involved representatives of both sides and pitch invaders from the stands, arose after the drone lowered a flag bearing an insignia of “Greater Albania”. It was caught by the Serbia defender Stefan Mitrovic.
• Spying mission? - French manager Didier Deschamps expressed concerns that France’s preparations for their World Cup game against Honduras have been compromised by a possible spying mission after a drone hovered over their training camp in Brazil. The France manager said that Fifa was carrying out an investigation into the bizarre incident, which took place during a training session at the team’s base.