MORE SOUTHAMPTON fans were arrested last season than almost any other team in last season’s Premier League, figures show.

The UK’s football police chief warned that disorder was on the rise across the top five divisions before coronavirus restrictions forced more than 500 fixtures to be cancelled or played behind closed doors.

Home Office figures show that 26 Southampton supporters were arrested in the 2019-20 season.

This was one of the highest of the 20 clubs in last season’s Premier League, behind Aston Villa’s 31.

Public disorder was the most common reason for the arrest of Southampton fans – with 16 for this offence.

This was followed by eight arrests for violent disorder.

There were 1,021 football-related arrests across the five leagues in 2019-20, a decrease of 21% on 2018-19 – but with 546 matches either cancelled or played without fans.

The UK’s football police chief, deputy chief constable Mark Roberts, said police normally see more incidents as seasons end when titles and relegation battles are decided.

He said: “Prior to the restrictions from Covid-19, there was already an increase in the levels of disorder at fixtures. In the previous season, there were incidents reported at 33% of 3,022 fixtures, and for the 2019-20 season, there were incidents reported at 36% of the 2,663 regulated fixtures.

“Significantly, the number of assaults against stadium staff and police officers are worryingly close to what we saw from a full season in 2018-19.”

Arrests linked to celebrations around matches played during lockdown are included in the figures, but DCC Roberts said that aside from a few high-profile incidents, such as Liverpool winning the Premier League, the vast majority of fans respected the rules and stayed away from grounds.

However, no Southampton supporters were arrested for racist and indecent chanting in 2019-20, nor in any of the previous five seasons.

Earlier in the year, four Saints fans were jailed for targetting rival fans during a drunken brawl.

Lewis Dean Austin, Thomas Kelly, William Holmes and Connor Pengelly swore and hurled abuse at Spurs supporters outside the Scholars Arms in Above Bar Street on January 25. CCTV footage played at Southampton Crown Court showed the men running at Tottenham supporters trying to kick and punch them.