Outgoing Cardiff City chairman Sam Hammam has claimed that part of his legacy will be how he tackled the club's hooligan problem head-on.
Hammam said fans were now keeping each other in check
He told BBC Wales that his "you've got to meet them to beat them" approach had led to self-policing among fans.
"When you reach out to them, talk to them about what you're trying to achieve you discover how positive they are," he said.
But one former South Wales police chief said other factors had contributed.
Mr Hammam, who was succeeded by Peter Ridsdale as chairman last week, said the club had come on in "leaps and bounds" on the hooligan issue.
"They're no longer involved, they don't come along to games to fight," he said.
His policy of mixing with troublemakers in an attempt to tackle the problem was greeted with criticism or scepticism from some quarters.
Mr Hammam said: "I started a campaign. You've got to 'meet them to beat them.'
"A lot of people who are hooligans are very nice, genuine people at heart and love their club.
"A lot of people in this country grow up viewing the police, judges, the lawyers - anything to do with the establishment - as the enemy, from a very young age.
"They see officialdom beating them up and knocking them down, so when you reach out to them, talk to them about what you're trying to achieve you discover how positive they are and how disciplined they can become."
Arrests at Cardiff City matches fell last season
But former South Wales Police chief superintendent Gerry Toms said other factors had contributed to the reduction of hooliganism.
"There's no doubt that Sam has very deep and passionate beliefs about football and particularly of Cardiff Football Club. and he has made a contribution towards the reduction of hooliganism but I don't think the police actually agree entirely with this sort of touchy-feely attitude," he said.
"I think we need to look at other factors, I mean for example, stewarding at Cardiff City has improved tremendously over the last couple of years.
Mr Toms added that South Wales Police were one of the "leading police forces in the country in dealing with football hooliganism".
Long-time Cardiff City fan Tony Jeffries said the club had always had a "terrific atmosphere", but football hooliganism had not been completely eliminated.
He said: "Every football club has a problem, it's like an itch, it never goes away."
Latest figures showed arrests at Cardiff City matches fell from 77 to 55 in 2005-2006.
Mr Hammam said: "A lot of people who were themselves troublemakers are now the ones who keep the rest in check. Look at the younger elements, it's the fans who stop them.
"You don't need a policeman or a steward to stop them, the fans are stopping themselves, they are their own police.
"Now when our fans have the slightest problem, within seconds they turn to the policeman who is responsible for us on the day. The demarcation lines between club, police and fans don't exist any more."
Mr Hammam added: "My method was very clear and now a lot of police forces all over the country are using my method."