Report: Cost of Policing Football Matches

20 July 2009

Clearer, fairer way of deciding costs of policing football matches must be found says Home Affairs Committee.

A report from the Home Affairs Committee says Football Clubs should continue to pay for all policing on their "footprint". However, where it can be shown – using evidence which is shared with the clubs – that the police are incurring costs beyond the club’s footprint, this should also be met by the club.

The Committee says while it is unacceptable for local communities to in effect subsidise the clubs it also criticises the methods by which the costs are calculated. The Committee called for more openness in the relationship between the clubs and the police and says it is unacceptable that the cost can apparently be decided by one individual police officer without consultation with the clubs.

Clubs should also have a greater input into the deployment of officers. The Committee says that if a suitable nationwide "formula" cannot be agreed on by the clubs and police for covering these costs the Home Office should consider providing legal clarification, and if necessary legislate on the issue.

The Committee expressed concern that the police had not recognised how much investment clubs have put into safety and do not seem to provide a proportionate deployment to the perceived threat, particularly at lower league grounds. The Committee says it doubts the necessity of deploying up to 150 police officers on top of the hundreds of stewards at an event when there are only an average of 1.2 arrests at a match. It suggests that the police review their arrangements for policing football matches and adopt standardised rules governing their deployment.

The Committee says that the current insolvency rules for football clubs going into administration are understandable and should not be altered as a whole, but more protection should be put in place to cover money owed to police forces when a club goes into administration, saying that a mismanaged club should not leave the community as a whole short-changed. "We cannot accept that a club entering administration must pay off transfer fees, perhaps running into millions of pounds, before settling a debt with the police force and community at large." It suggested that the Football League consider taking action to prevent any potential shortfall.

Chairman of the Committee, Rt Hon Keith Vaz said:

"There is clearly a lack of understanding and communication between the police and football clubs on the issue of costs. It is clear that football clubs must pay for the costs of policing which directly relates to matches in their 'footprint', this should not be a burden on the taxpayer. However, we recognise the efforts of clubs to ensure that matches are safe and fully secure.

"This must be recognised by the police when they are planning matches and calculating costs. An outside body is needed to oversee this process and ensure fairness, one police officer should not be solely responsible. This should be a partnership not an opportunity for one body to extract unnecessary payments or benefits from another.

"It is a very complicated and grey area exactly which costs to the wider community, in town centres and on transport, can be said to directly arise from a match. If a satisfactory arrangement cannot be come to between the police and clubs the Home Office may have to step in and provide some legal clarity."

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