Sheffield MP calls for football clubs to pay their way on policing

A Sheffield MP says big clubs need to help out more with the cost of policing matches if we are to avoid going back to the ‘bad old days’ of football violence.

Tuesday, 4th June 2019, 5:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th June 2019, 4:45 pm

Sheffield Hillsborough and Brightside MP Gill Furniss, whose constituency is the home of Sheffield Wednesday, will make the call during a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament on Tuesday.

She will say the huge cost of policing matches urgently needed to be addressed against the backdrop of police forces in England and Wales losing 20,000 officers since 2010.

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Sheffield MP debates cost of policing football matches
MP Gill Furniss.

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And she hopes the debate will lead to new solutions to the problem being found with one idea being imposing a 1 per cent policing levy on the money clubs receive from television companies.

Speaking before the debate took place on Tuesday evening, she said: “My local police say it is becoming more and more difficult to find resources to police these matches. The last Sheffield derby cost £203,000 to police.

“We have rising knife crimes and organised criminal gangs and hate crimes are going up as well. In the absence of reinstating the officers we have lost we need to find an answer to this problem.”

While the Westminster Hall debate will not lead to a change in the law, it could lead to further debates in the House of Commons itself or the introduction of legislation, said Mrs Furniss.

Police officers on duty at the Steel City derby in January 2018 (Pic: Dean Atkins)

“It is just the start of asking what can football do to address the situation,” she said.

“I am not anti-football. I support Sheffield Wednesday and my family have for generations.

“We all love the game but we need it to be policed properly if we aren’t to go back to the bad old days.”

Last year it was revealed that the Steel City derby is the most expensive game to police in English football, with the two games in the 2017/18 season costing a combined £347,766.

However, the vast majority of these costs have to be met by the South Yorkshire Police as forces across the country can only claim back a fraction of the £48m required to police the game each year.

At the time, South Yorkshire Police’s Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts said: “In the current climate of police funding, we simply can’t afford to continue subsiding football matches, and every officer deployed, or pound spent on policing games, is money and time taken away from neighbourhood policing or supporting vulnerable people.

“Together with the 45 per cent increase in disorder being seen within stadiums themselves and the national reduction of 20,000 police officers compared to 2010, this is simply not sustainable.”