Statistics show football clubs are not footing the bill for policing

Posted on February 5, 2010

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Policing football is expensive (Pic: Times Online)

The cost of policing the matches of London’s five Premier League teams increased by 55% last season, according to statistics obtained by myself under the Freedom of Information Act.

The statistics show that the Metropolitan Police service spent £4,330,000 on policing the matches of Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, Tottenham Hostpur and West Ham United, compared with £2,800,000 the year before.

The Metropolitan Police refused to comment on what accounted for the significant rise in costs.

In spite of calls for the clubs to be charged more, the difference between what the cost and what the clubs are charged increased by 20%.

For example, while the cost of policing Chelsea matches rose from £610,000 to £975,000, Chelsea’s contributions increased by only £226,000 to £370,000. The figures show that Chelsea, owned by the mega-rich Roman Abramovich, paid less than half the cost of policing their matches.

A House of Commons report last July recommended that clubs start paying more towards the cost of ‘consequential policing’, which means policing that occurs as a result of the football but does not take place on the club’s premises.

Currently, clubs only pay towards ‘blueprint policing’. This is policing that takes place at the stadium. Such policing only happens at the request of the respective football club.

These figures will bolster claims that the clubs should pay more, with £1,619,000 of taxpayers’ money spent on policing football matches last year.

The Association of Chief Police Officers has lead the campaign to force the clubs to pay more. In 2008, Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Thomas said: “”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.

“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.”

In a statement, Acpo admitted that its hands were tied by the law: “At the request of football clubs, the police service will provide a ‘special police service’ and, in accordance with national guidance, can seek to recover the costs of providing this service from the clubs. However, current guidance does not allow police to charge football clubs for associated policing in town centres.”

Premier League Head of Communications Dan Johnson claims clubs should not have to pay more, as they already contribute more than £700 million to the government in taxes. The five clubs themselves refused to comment.

Yet it seems clear that the situation will not be allowed to go on for much longer. The Metropolitan Police is responding to the pressure and will implement reforms in how the policing of football is funded.

‘We are working with ACPO to devise a new costing structure for policing of football matches. This is still a work in progress so it would not be appropriate for us to go into further detail at this stage.”

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