Page last updated at 05:11 GMT, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 06:11 UK

Football 'should pay for police'

By Rowan Bridge
BBC Radio Five Live

Police on horseback at a football ground
There are significant costs involved with policing a football match

Football clubs should pay all the costs of policing games, says the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Clubs currently have to pay back only the costs incurred inside their ground or on their property, with the rest coming from police budgets.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Thomas said local communities were in effect subsidising the clubs.

The Premier League said clubs were meeting their legal duties to pay policing costs inside their grounds.

Freedom of Information requests from BBC Radio Five Live to the police showed it cost £7.5m to police 13 Premier League clubs, with the teams paying £4.3m and £3.2m coming from police budgets.

Dan Johnson from the Premier League: "We shouldn't have to pay twice"

All the constabularies policing the Premier League were contacted.

Of those, six forces provided comparable data covering 13 of the 20 clubs in the League.

ACC Thomas, of British Transport Police, who is also the Acpo lead on football policing, said police budgets were being taken from communities to be spent on policing football grounds.

"The cash we get to police our various areas across the country is provided by government, is provided by people through council tax and the provision of that is to provide a policing service to those areas and to those communities.

'Lesser service'

"If we have to take officers away from them to police football, we are not able to recover the cost of that - that means our normal police budget is being used for that purpose which means we then have to provide a lesser service to the rest of the community."

The amounts paid by clubs varied - Chelsea, owned by billionaire Roman Abramovich, paid less than half of the cost of policing their games.

Manchester United were the most expensive club to police, with Greater Manchester Police spending £543,442 from their budget to patrol their games last season.

The club paid £904,059 towards the policing cost of £1,447,501.

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
Dan Johnson, Premier League

Fulham cost £110,000 to police, after they paid £150,000 towards the sum of £260,000. West Ham's cost was £300,000, after they paid £200,000 towards the policing cost of £500,000.

And Arsenal's was £290,000 - they paid £600,000 of the total £890,000 needed to police their games.

The rest of the forces said that it was too difficult to separate out the cost of football from general policing.

Acpo accepts that calculating the exact cost of football games is difficult - is an officer who was on patrol anyway and intercepts a hooligan a general policing cost, or should the club contribute?

'Step too far'

ACC Thomas said: "It is very difficult. I mean it is quite clear the officers at the ground outside the ground, or in areas controlled by the club that is fairly obvious, and that's what we currently charge for.

"Officers who are paraded for duty that day specifically do football duties, so for instance if we are bringing large numbers of officers on to do patrols in city centres and town centres then just for the duration of the football game, that's quite clear.

"But officers who may be doing their normal duties around those areas then that would be far more difficult. Perhaps we shouldn't be charging for that."

For the Premier League, though, this is a step too far.

Head of communications Dan Johnson pointed out that clubs already contributed £700m a year to the Treasury through taxes.

Police outside a football ground
Large crowds at football grounds mean a heavy police presence

"The law is quite clear - clubs pay for any policing inside the ground and on immediately adjacent property under their control on matchday.

"Any other provision deemed necessary is covered by the state - it's what people pay their taxes for, with the Premier League alone contributing more than £700m a year to the Treasury, let alone the tax take from the 13 million fans who attend Premier League games during the course of a season.

"This long-established principle applies to all individuals and organisations in the UK, from private individuals to shopping centres, pubs and major events, like the Notting Hill Carnival."

Mr Johnson also said that Premiership clubs worked with their local police forces to make sure that the call on police resources was "as little as possible".

He added: "They have invested heavily in all-seater stadia, CCTV and stewarding - as a result the numbers of police required to ensure public safety, and therefore the cost, has reduced over the past 15 years.

"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."

Parliamentary influence

In December 2007 Premier League club Wigan Athletic lost a High Court battle in a row over a £300,000 policing bill.

The club had claimed Greater Manchester Police were overcharging for covering match days at its JJB Stadium.

The row broke out following an increase in charges for policing games in the 2003/04 and 2004/05 seasons.

Acpo has now told the Home Office it would like to see a change in the law to allow it to charge clubs and other money-making events for the full costs of policing their events.

The proposal has been included in its submission to the government's Green Paper on the future of policing.

It means politicians may ultimately end up playing arbiter between the wishes of the Premier League and those of the police.

PREMIER LEAGUE POLICING COSTS 2007/8

Club Total cost Costs recovered Deficit
Arsenal £890,000 £600,000 £290,000
Blackburn Rovers £396,746 £211,211 £185,534
Bolton £316,503 £297,710 £18,793
Chelsea £610,000 £240,000 £370,000
Derby County £557,960 £171,000 £386,960
Fulham £260,000 £150,000 £110,000
Manchester City £888,118 £547,016 £341,102
Manchester United £1,447,501 £904,059 £543,442
Middlesbrough £450,819 £148,131 £302,688
Portsmouth £376,125 £376,125 £0
Tottenham £540,000 £260,000 £280,000
West Ham £500,000 £200,000 £300,000
Wigan £291,691 £194,487 £97,204
Total £7,525,463 £4,299,739 £3,225,723
Aston Villa n/a £310,140  
Birmingham City n/a £316,032  
Newcastle n/a £455,838  
Sunderland n/a £434,093  
Reading n/a £118,677  
Everton n/a n/a n/a
Liverpool n/a n/a n/a

Comparable figures not available for Everton and Liverpool



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SEE ALSO
Wigan seeks police costs refund
08 Oct 07 |  Manchester
Football club woes cost police
06 Feb 03 |  England

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