Sheffield MP debates cost of policing football matches

A Sheffield MP is to lead a House of Commons debate today on the cost of policing football matches.

By Claire Lewis
Tuesday, 04 June, 2019, 11:18
Police officers on duty at the Steel City derby in January 2018 (Pic: Dean Atkins)

Gill Furniss, Labour MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, secured the debate at 6pm tonight to highlight the increasing costs ‘stretched police forces’ are having to face.

She claims professional football matches in England and Wales cost over £48 million a year to police, but forces are only entitled to claim back a fraction from clubs.

The MP said that against a backdrop of funding cuts to police forces – resulting in the loss of 20,000 officers in England and Wales since 2010 –  the cost of policing football needs to be addressed.

Speaking ahead of the debate, she said: “Sheffield Wednesday are based in my constituency and their Steel City derby against Sheffield United has recently been one of the most expensive matches to police in the country.

“Revenue in football is at record levels so the Government needs to take action to ensure that a balance is struck so that big clubs pay their fair share of costs towards policing big games.’

“It is notable that last year the total amount paid by Premier League clubs to players’ agents was more than the annual budgets of 27 out of 43 police forces in England and Wales. 

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“I hope that my debate will provide an opportunity to raise this important issue with ministers and help secure better and more sustainable football policing in Brightside and Hillsborough and across the country.”

Last June, South Yorkshire’s Deputy Chief Constable, Mark Roberts, highlighted the same issue.

He said that in 2017 only a third of the costs incured by forces for policing football games could be recouped from clubs.

The money unable to be claimed back that year could have funded 27 full time police officers, he said.

Rules state that police forces can only claim back funding for the number of officers used inside football stadiums.

The two Steel City derbies in the 2017/18 season cost £347,766 to police, but the vast majority of the costs could not be claimed back as officers were deployed across the city to keep rival fans apart.

DCC Roberts said at that time: “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.”