Page last updated at 08:55 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 09:55 UK

Match called off over demo risk

Kenilworth Road
Luton Town have yet to announce a new date for the match

Luton Town Football Club has postponed a home game on police advice because a protest march is planned for the town on the same day.

The game against York City, due to take place at Kenilworth Road on 19 September, will be rearranged.

The English Defence League, one of four groups banned from marching in Luton, is planning a protest on the same day.

Bedfordshire Police said it advised the Hatters to cancel because the force cannot police both events.

A spokeswoman added that the potential protest was classed as a large event and officers would be unable to provide support within the town centre and at the Kenilworth Road ground.

A statement on the club's website said a new date has yet to be finalised and apologised to fans for any inconvenience.

It is disappointing that a football match is getting dragged into this political issue
Kevin Lennon, Loyal Luton Supporters Club

One of Luton Town's fan clubs said it was disappointing that Bedfordshire Police felt it could not cope, particularly as it had dealt with far higher profile matches at Kenilworth Road.

"I think it's fair to say that all the fans I have spoken to are very disappointed and in some cases angry that the police are asking our game to be postponed," said Kevin Lennon, chairman of the Loyal Luton Supporters Club.

"The new owners of the football club have been making great inroads into community integration issues over the past year or so and it is disappointing that a football match is getting dragged into this political issue."

He believed the game would require a "minimal" police presence, with the game against York expected to attract up to 7,000 Luton fans and no more than a "few hundred" away fans.

Ban on processesions

Last month, the police and Luton Borough Council were granted a three-month banning order on public processions by four organisations or associated groups.

Protest plans by March for England, UK Casuals United, United People of Luton and the English Defence League had increased tensions in Luton, they said.

Police have the power to ban public processions and search people and vehicles for offensive weapons if they believe serious violence may take place.

A statement on the English Defence League website said it planned to march in Luton on 19 September "against the ever growing population of Islamic extremists, and the home of some of the most unsavoury Al-Qaeda supporters in the UK".

It added: "This demonstration has been banned by the Home Office."

Angry scenes broke out on 10 March when a small number of Muslims held an anti-war protest during the homecoming parade of British troops.

Seven people are due in court later this month charged with public order offences in relation to the protest.

A further 12 people have been charged in connection with another disturbance in Luton town centre on 24 May and are due before magistrates at a separate hearing.



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