POLICE chiefs in West Yorkshire are today facing up to the prospect of making a £1m payout to Leeds United following their High Court defeat by the club.
United yesterday won a landmark legal battle with West Yorkshire Police over the cost of work done by officers at their Elland Road ground on matchdays.
The Yorkshire Post understands the force will now have to refund United around £1m.
It is also understood the new costs arrangements heralded by yesterday’s ruling in London could take a £1m chunk out of the police’s budget during each future football season.
Asked about the impact of the ruling on the county’s residents, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom said: “This won’t mean higher council tax but it will mean less police for communities in West Yorkshire.”
ACC Milsom said a decision on whether to appeal against the ruling had yet to be made.
Leeds took the force to court arguing they had been wrongly charged for matchday work on car parks and streets around Elland Road for the past three seasons.
Mr Justice Eady yesterday backed United’s claim and said previous overpayments should be reimbursed.
Leeds argued that the police should not bill them for maintaining order or preventing obstructions on land which is neither club-owned nor controlled.
Areas involved in the dispute included Lowfields Road, Wesley Croft, Wesley Street and the Elland Road highway itself.
Reacting to yesterday’s ruling, United chief executive Shaun Harvey said: “We have been paying under protest for the last three seasons .... and are pleased to have received this clarification in a dispute which was only capable of being resolved in front of a judge.”
United’s legal fight has been described as a test case for the rest of English football.
The Association of Chief Police Officers said it was reviewing the ruling and would be “seeking legal guidance if appropriate”.