The disruption of a sporting event by an errant spectator is not an unfamiliar occurrence: streakers have been bringing their distinctly chilly form of exhibitionism to football matches or tennis tournaments for decades. But rarely has a fixture been disrupted in quite the way it was on Tuesday night, when a portly protester handcuffed himself to the goalposts during a match between Everton and Manchester City, apparently as part of a longstanding campaign about his daughter's alleged unfair dismissal by Ryanair, which the airline firmly denies. It took policemen and stadium staff around five minutes to free him with bolt-cutters.
So could we soon see a similar spate of handcuff protests? Is this, in short, the new streaking? Not according to Dr Clifford Stott, senior lecturer in social psychology at the University of Liverpool, and an expert in the policing of football matches. "This was an absolute one-off," he says. "It was just lucky that someone at the stadium found a pair of bolt-cutters: the police don't carry them as a matter of course." Were other protesters to try the same thing, he adds, they would face the wrath of legions of football fans: "The fans resent anyone who uses the game to make a political point. Anyone who tried this in the future would face a great deal of antagonism."