Football Lads Alliance
|Formation||4 June 2017|
|Extinction||January 22, 2019|
(Leader until 16 April 2018)
The Football Lads Alliance (FLA) is a right-wing movement in the United Kingdom founded by John Meighan in 2017. According to The Times, "the movement was set up as a self-proclaimed 'anti-extremist' movement" but has increasingly become associated with far-right politics and far-right activists.
The Premier League has warned clubs that "the group is using fans and stadiums to push an anti-Muslim agenda". Concern has also been expressed that the Alliance is "giving cover to the far right" and "uses a secret Facebook page full of violent, racist and misogynistic posts".
Following a number of terror attacks in the UK, including the Westminster Bridge attack (22 March 2017) and the bombing of Manchester Arena (22 May 2017), a group of Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) supporters organised a march in London in June 2017 against extremism, led by Spurs supporter John Meighan.
The FLA was registered as a private company in August 2017. A store was opened online selling t-shirts, hoodies and caps.
The second FLA march was in October 2017, present were members "Veterans Against Terrorism" (VAT), an advocacy group made up of claimed military veterans which opposes what it describes as "Islamist extremists". The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) monitored the FLA’s social media posts as part of their ongoing research into extremist movements and tactics online. It reported that, in less than a year, the FLA had moved to the right.
FLA organized a campaign selling pin badges featuring the poppy symbol of The Royal British Legion donating sums collected to the Legion. The charity however returned a £1,104 donation to the FLA on 11 April 2018 saying that, "a small number of FLA supporters have expressed views and opinions that are not compatible with the values of The Royal British Legion."
An FLA march was held on 19 May 2018 to mark the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing with around 200 people attending. An opposition rally was organized with around 800 people, with speakers from anti-racist and anti-fascist movements, local councillors and trade union bodies.
FLA split and formation of DFLA
The organisation split over certain issues, with some senior activists setting up the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA or the "Democratic FLA" or "true FLA"). It has adopted the slogan "Against All Extremism". The DFLA leader and march organiser is Phillip Hickin.
On 13 October 2018, the DLFA staged a rally in central London which was stopped by anti-fascist protesters, and resulted in violence against the police. Later that week, Premier League club, West Ham United suspended their under-18s coach, Mark Phillips, following his attendance at the DFLA rally. The club said "We have a zero tolerance policy to any form of violent or abusive behaviour. We continue to protect and cherish those values and we remain committed to ensuring that every single member of the West Ham family feels safe, respected and included."
An anti-Brexit rally in London on 7 September 2019 was disrupted by pro-Brexit demonstrators organized by the DLFA.
- Times Investigation (30 March 2018). "Premier League clubs warned over 'far-right' Football Lads Alliance". Times Online. Times Newspapers.(subscription required)
- Bryant, Ben; Frymorgen, Tomasz (9 May 2018). "Football Lads Alliance: 'We could have a civil war in this country'". BBC Three. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
- "Inside the Football Lads Alliance march through London". The Independent. ESL Media. 7 October 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
- Wall, Tom (17 March 2018). "Secret Facebook page reveals violence at heart of forum for 'football fans'". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
- Keoghan, Jim (31 August 2018). "The far-right is attempting to return to football. These are the fans fighting it". New Statesman. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
- Poulter, James; Childs, Simon (23 March 2018). "Are the Football Lads Alliance another far-right street movement?". Vice. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
- "Football Lads Alliance Ltd". companycheck.co.uk. Company Check. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
- Hill, Laura (16 February 2018). "Veterans Against Terrorism march in Newcastle: Charities distance themselves as organiser speaks". Evening Chronicle. Newcastle: Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
Antony Harrison, one of the organisers behind the Veterans Against Terrorism group... insisted the group isn’t linked to any right-wing organisations - especially the EDL - and the only other movement it works with is the Football Lads Association.
- Staff writer (15 May 2018). "Hundreds of Stand Up To Racism campaigners oppose FLA rally in Manchester". Salford Star. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
- Richards, Andy (18 March 2018). "Pub bombings campaigner to speak at huge football supporter demo in Birmingham". Birmingham Mail. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
The True Democratic Football Lads Alliance has split from the Football Lads Alliance
- "Football Lads Alliance march: When Islam was mentioned, the crowd booed and hissed loudly". The Times. 30 March 2018. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- Socialist Worker journalists (24 March 2018). "Update - The FLA shows its true colours in Birmingham - racist and bigoted". Socialist Worker. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
- Buck, Kate (13 October 2018). "Football 'lads' charge at police as far-right march turns violent". Metro. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- "Planned silent march from 'football lads' turns violent". ITV News. 13 October 2018. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- AP. "Right-wing march in London turns violent, 1 arrested". Yahoo News UK. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- "West Ham suspend coach who attended Democratic Football Lads Alliance march". BBC News. 17 October 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
- Lovett, Samuel (17 October 2018). "West Ham suspend youth coach who attended Democratic Football Lads Alliance march". The Independent. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- Busby, Mattha (7 September 2019). "Anti-Brexit protesters decry Johnson's 'coup' in cities across UK". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2019.