Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton have all held meetings about drone defence after incidents at Gatwick and Heathrow pushed the matter to the ‘top of the agenda’ according to Ben Rumsby in the Telegraph.
Although no Premier League games have been impacted by the use of drones, and it is illegal to fly one over a public gathering of more than 1,000 people, it seems like only a matter of time before one makes headlines in the game.
During his investigation into the issue, Rumsby found that, perhaps not surprisingly, Premier League clubs are ‘ill-equipped’ to handle the threat. He also revealed that “Manchester United said they had trialled anti-drone technology. Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton said they had held talks with specialist firms, while Chelsea said they were looking at remedies.”
Sports stadiums are apparently the “No 1 Priority” for Drone Defence, who are already in trials with one Premier League club. according to their chief executive, Richard Gill. The cost? Around £300k.
“It may be a matter of time before they face their own Gatwick moment – or worse,” Chris Eaton, former Fifa head of security, said.
“The chaos caused at Gatwick Airport should be a wake-up call to major venues across the UK,” said Damian Collins, the chairman of parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee.
Back in 2015 a man was fined £1,800 for flying drones over Premier League stadiums in what was the first case of “a person being prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service for using drones after a police-led operation.”
The charges he admitted included flying the drone on:
- September 16 – Liverpool v Ludogorets FC at Anfield
- September 23 – Derby County v Reading at iPro Stadium, Derby
- September 27 – Palace of Westminster, London
- September 27 – Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium, London
- October 9 – Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace and north bank of the River Thames in London
- October 18 – Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur at Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Speaking at his sentencing, District Judge Quentin Purdy told the offender, “At each and every one of these places an accident could have occurred simply by a gust of wind or something of that nature taking it out of your control.
“In each and every case you knew what you were doing. Several times you were warned by police, who seized drones from you and on numerous occasions by people posting on your YouTube channel.
“It was the height of arrogance in terms of public safety.”
“Operators of any small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not fly them over or within 150 metres of any congested area, over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 people or within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the user’s control, unless they have obtained permission from the Civil Aviation Authority.
“Users must also maintain direct visual contact with a drone throughout its flight path so they can avoid collisions with people and buildings.” [source: BBC]