Police struggle to absorb costs of matchdays

Police patrol Elland Road before a Leeds United match. Picture by Tony Johnson
Police patrol Elland Road before a Leeds United match. Picture by Tony Johnson
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FOOTBALL clubs in Yorkshire paid some of the highest policing bills in the country outside a clutch of clubs in the Premier League last season.

Although payments from clubs have generally been falling over the last three seasons, Sheffield United and Barnsley both paid more for policing than Chelsea and Newcastle last season despite being in the third tier of English football.

The cost of policing football matches

The cost of policing football matches

And even though Leeds United’s bill has fallen significantly since the club successfully challenged West Yorkshire Police in the courts in 2012, the Championship club’s payment of £477,476 was behind only the two Manchester clubs and Liverpool in 2014/15.

Yorkshire’s only representative in the Premier League last season, Hull City, also paid a relatively high amount with a bill of £341,466 above most of the club’s rivals in the same division.

Nationally, Manchester City recorded the highest bill last season – £792,479 – an amount only marginally down from £799,333 in 2012/13.

Liverpool paid £487,191, down from £612,609, while Merseyside Police also received £420,523 from Everton last season compared to £522,567 in 2012/13.

Sunderland’s payments to Northumbria Police have dropped from £595,741 to £373,970 over the same period, while Newcastle’s payments to the same force fell from £343,479 to £236,130.

There were also some eye-catchingly low figures with Premier League Crystal Palace paying just £19,690 to the Metropolitan Police, compared to £174,120 in 2012/13. In the lower reaches of the leagues, Accrington Stanley, Carlisle and Dagenham and Redbridge each paid nothing at all for policing last season. West Yorkshire Police declined to comment but South Yorkshire Police said special circumstances had led to Sheffield United and Barnsley’s high payments last season. United paid £301,351 and Barnsley £259,917 – both well above the £206,175 Chelsea paid to the Metropolitan Police.

Supt Caroline Rollitt, from South Yorkshire Police, said: “The popularity of football in South Yorkshire is something we work hard alongside the clubs to support, with the safety of fans as a priority.

“In line with national guidance, South Yorkshire Police only charge football clubs for policing in the immediate footprint of any stadium. The associated costs for the policing of Sheffield United fixtures has increased in the last two seasons due to the club’s successful run to the semi-finals of both cup competitions.

“Around £50,000 was added to the costs of policing Barnsley Football Club’s fixtures last season because a higher number of officers were required to cover emergency duties. These provisions are normally made by the club themselves.

“With five clubs in the top three leagues and over 151 football matches per season, the demand on resources to police football fixtures in the county is significant and only comparable with much larger forces including the Metropolitan Police.”

Bradford City, also in the third tier and who also enjoyed a successful run in the FA Cup, paid only £71,768 to West Yorkshire Police last season.

Humberside Police said the particular layout of land outside Hull City’s KC Stadium, which counts as part of the stadium footprint and is chargeable for policing, had contributed to the bill.

A spokesman said: “The policing requirement for football matches is set by their relative category classification. This classification is based on an assessment of the risk and threat relating to both crime and disorder, as well as ensuring public safety linked to the football. Therefore the amount charged is based on the amount of additional policing required for the stadium footprint (the stadium and the immediate area surrounding it) for the entirety of the event. In the case of the KC Stadium this includes large parts of West Park where the ground is based.”

Exclusive: Police may not be able to meet cost of covering football