All fans banned from Gillingham v Swindon Town football match

Priestfield Stadium Medway Council said there were "serious concerns" over fans' safety

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Football fans have been banned from a League Two match between Gillingham and Swindon Town following a row over policing costs.

Medway Council said that a prohibition notice had been issued for the game on 21 April due to "serious concerns" over public order at the Priestfield ground.

Kent Police said the provision of appropriate numbers of officers at Gillingham's stadium was "essential".

Swindon could secure promotion to League One if they win the match.

Gillingham FC said it was making no comment on the council's statement.

'Specific intelligence'

Ch Supt Alasdair Hope said: "The safety of all fans attending this football match is our main priority and we are not prepared for their safety to be compromised.

"The cost of this must be met by Gillingham FC."

Councillor Mike O'Brien, from Medway Council, said that Kent Police had "serious concerns about public order at the ground".

He said: "We have done this following advice from Kent Police that they have specific intelligence concerning the match and its fans.

"The risk is so serious for fans that, until steps have been taken to reduce it to a reasonable level through agreeing adequate policing levels, spectators will be prohibited from attending the match."

A spokesman for Swindon Town Football Club (STFC) said: "At this stage STFC are in continued talks with Gillingham to get the matter resolved."

'Pay the bill'

Gary Liptrott, chairman of the Gillingham Independent Supporters Club, said: "There have been issues with Swindon in the past.

Start Quote

It's a game which could see us win the league championship”

End Quote Nigel Bennett Swindon Town Supporters Club

"We have a lot of families within our membership and their safety is of the utmost importance."

Mr Liptrott said the game was important to Swindon Town in their push for promotion and so the club would bring lots of fans, which would require extra policing within the stadium.

"I would like to think that the game will go ahead and the club will have to go along with it and pay the bill."

Nigel Bennett, a spokesman for the Swindon Town Supporters Club, said: "This will be a shock and a major concern for all Town fans that were planning on going to the game, or have already made arrangements to travel.

"One can only hope that Gillingham FC and Kent Police can come to some agreement so that the game can take place.

"It's a game which could see us win the league championship and fans would like to be there to see us win the league."

Swindon are top of League Two, with a seven point lead over nearest rivals Torquay.

Gillingham are currently ninth, four points off the play-off places.

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