Football clubs face call to increase policing payments

Riot police Football games require policing to ensure order is maintained among both sets of fans

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Football clubs should pay for the cost of policing a wider area around stadia, the sport's most senior police officer in England and Wales has said.

Official police policy is to only charge for policing within grounds and the area immediately around it.

But ACC Andy Holt told BBC Radio 5 live clubs should pay the full cost of managing games as trouble spreads to other city areas and transport hubs.

The Football League said taxes are paid to cover policing costs.

It said football fans should not "pay twice for policing".

Holt said it was his personal opinion that forces should be able to claim back the costs of disorder linked to games, instead of being restricted to just the policing costs near stadia.

His comments came after research commissioned by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) found a statistically significant rise in crime and disorder at least a kilometre away from grounds.

"It's my personal view that we should have full cost recovery," he told the BBC.

"We are not trying to enforce that at the moment. We are working with clubs and it's a matter for discussion in due course.

"But I would reiterate, my personal view is that professional businesses that are in the entertainment industry should pay for the full costs of their policing."

'Wigan ruling'

The issue has been a long running one between the football authorities and the forces that police the games.

It came to a head in 2008 when Wigan Athletic took Greater Manchester Police to court over how much they were being charged to police their games.

Start Quote

We fail to see why football fans should pay twice for policing”

End Quote Football League

The so-called 'Wigan ruling' means forces are only able to charge for the 'footprint' - the area inside the ground and some surrounding streets.

But as crowd control has improved, police say the trouble has moved from football stadia to other parts of cities such as transport hubs. They are unable to charge clubs for that policing.

New research commissioned by Acpo, seen by BBC Radio 5 live, shows how the problems have shifted.

The Jill Dando Institute for Crime Science at University College, London, compared crime patterns around five stadia between 2005 and 2010.

It found in four of the five cases that levels of crime and disorder rose significantly on match days compared to similar non-match days at least a kilometre from grounds.

"In general, what the findings told us was there are these patterns, these higher than normal counts of crime that are occurring in areas that extend beyond what the football clubs are currently being held responsible for," Justin Kurland, a research associate said.

"In general what we saw were increased levels of violence against the person offences. In addition to that we saw theft and handling increases.

Football opposition

"We did as much as we could to rule out that other factors contributed to differences and when you boil it down it does appear that the only difference between these sets of days that we looked at, one type of day has a football match occurring…and on the non-match comparison days there is no match happening."

The idea that football should pay any more though has met with strong opposition from within the game.

In a statement the Football League said: "Costs incurred away from the ground that are deemed necessary are covered by the state - it's what people pay their taxes for, with English professional football contributing more that £1bn a year to the Treasury, let alone the tax paid by the millions of fans who attend Premier League and Football League games during the season, and who are of course entitled, like all citizens, to police services as they go about their lawful business.

"We are always happy to discuss how it might be possible to further reduce costs, or indeed how football can help the police tackle youth crime, but we fail to see why football fans should pay twice for policing."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    They should pay more.....If they can overpay their players as they do they should pay more for policing a wider area because of the trouble and vandalism and violence caused by football followers throughout the country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    I think some has Loss De Plott on this one! Football has gone through significant changes in the last 20 years. This approach of making stadiums pay for policing beyond the stadium is draconian and does not reflect the reasonable behaviour of fans today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Your police force is a for-profit, private limited company. Of course it wants to increase its income. What company doesn't?
    But is a football club responsible for what someone wearing a replica shirt does throughout the day?
    If I'm going to a rock concert and decide to punch an R&B fan en route is it the band's or the venue's responsibility?

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Should it be the football club that foots the bill, or the limited company that has been set up to get around the FA's own rules about how clubs are owned and ran? I'll hazard a guess that it will be the former and the police will join the long list of creditors (St John's Ambulance are always at the bottom of the list) when the club goes bust.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    *Great* idea ... even more money for a police force that with every passing day shows itself to be more corrupt, thuggish, racist and inept. The only reason they actually get out of their cars and attend football matches is because, well, it's football.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    Osborne's apparently realised what many of us have known for years :

    "Chancellor George Osborne says he is "shocked" that some of the UK's wealthiest people organise their tax affairs so they pay very little"

    He should close the loopholes and use the money to continue ensuring the police are publicly funded rather than allow for arbitrary policing areas to be created. Bit of a hot pasty scenario

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    What next?
    After Dialling 999:
    “Thank you for dialling the police, you now have 4 options:
    For payment by VISA press 1.
    For payment by MasterCard press 2
    If you have been mugged and have no credit cards press 3
    Everybody else press 4 to be transferred to our call centre in India.
    Remember payment by card enables a quicker service and more NECTAR points.”

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    Clubs have to pay so ticket prices go up.

    Hey Presto - another Stealth Tax.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    It's another money grab, if we just stay in our homes and don't venture out we can save more money. Unfortunately we have lives to live,between 60-80% of crime is alcohol related may be we should think seriously about lifestyles. Perhaps looking at the justice system that favours criminals or the small % that are responsible for the majority of serious crimes may be stop all this banner waving

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Police authorities trying to justify more funding towards the building of the police state.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    If some of these clubs can afford to pay millions to their stars surely they can afford to foot the bill for services that their "businesses" require.
    If they cannot afford it then they need to cut costs in other areas so that they CAN afford it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    It can kick off at Henley Regatta and Roayl Ascot too, champagne flutes flying everywhere, I got some caviar in my eye once.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    Look a football fan is a customer of his/her club,what he/she does an hour before or an hour after the game in a different place has nothing to do with the club. Warped logic if ever I heard it from this officer. You want more funding go bend Mrs Mays ear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    So if a police force messes up an investigation will the relevant Chief Constable be compensating the public from his/her own pocket ? How strange that this idea is partly based on research by the Jill Dando Institute for Crime Science. Maybe they should also investigate the cost to the country of inefficient investigations such as the one into the murder of Miss Dando herself or Hillsborough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Presumably the same logic can be applied to the likes of pubs and clubs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    Why only football clubs? what about all events, The london Olympics pop concerts race meetings Rugby and the boat race to name a few. All should pay The police extra !!! But many football clubs and events would closed down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    how about telling the big breweries to pay for the cost of policing city centres. or the highways agency for policing the motorways?

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    If ACPO were serious about reducing operating costs they should first look at the number of layers of management; and particularly the number of senior management that always seem to have a deputy and assistant deputy.
    Also, why in the best forces does it take1hr to process a prisoner and up to 3hrs in the worst forces

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    The police are there to keep order for the everyday lawful activities the public wish to engage in. The majority of fans cause no trouble & should not be persecuted for the few! Fines for disorder should reflect the cost, so that the perpetrators pay. There is an argument for charging where there is persistent disorder which should be extended to clubs and pubs. Otherwise its nonsense!

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    I can understand why Andy Holt has called for this but the police need a clear policy on businesses paying for policing. Asking football clubs to pay more but nightclubs, large events etc not having to is nothing short of discriminating. Enhanced security is needed at matches but it could be privatised and other industries that take a lot of police time should be treated equally


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