West Yorkshire Police Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson has called for Sky Sports to help foot the bill for policing football matches.
Mr Burns-Williamson believes some of the money paid by the broadcaster to football clubs for TV coverage could be used to offset associated police costs, particularly since changes to kick-off times are being made to allow for matches to be televised, which he said puts additional pressure on police.
“I think there’s a case to say an element of that funding could be paid to police, given the pressures of reducing budgets we’re facing. The police are expected to provide significant resources when risk assessments are done that say there could be significant problems at particular games.
“Is there any consideration at all by Sky that the money that they provide could offset some of the policing costs? I’m not saying all of it should come to the police, but I think these are proper considerations that should be made.”
The PCC’s comments followed a boycott by hundreds of Hull City supporters of the Yorkshire derby at Huddersfield Town in protest at “draconian” travel restrictions imposed on them by West Yorkshire Police after the kick-off was moved to 5.20pm so it could be broadcast live on Sky.
Fans of both clubs opposed the restrictions – which said the Hull fans must travel in an escorted “bubble” from Hartshead Moor Services – and more than 200 took part in a protest march through Huddersfield ahead of the game.
Andy Dalton, editor of the City fanzine Amber Nectar, who took part in the march and boycott, said: “I think we’ve shown West Yorkshire Police up for being a pretty draconian bunch of authoritarians really.
“There was obviously no need to place these restrictions – the fact we had Hull and Huddersfield fans marching together shows this.”
Mr Burns-Williamson has written to the Home Secretary calling for a review of the legislation governing the policing of football matches. His comments come after West Yorkshire Police lost a landmark battle with Leeds United over who should pay for policing matches at Elland Road.
Last year the force was ordered to repay £1m for services wrongly categorised as “special police services” between 2009 and 2012. An appeal was thrown out by the High Court last month.
Sky said what clubs did with the money was up to them. Leeds United, whose game with Derby County will be shown on Sky tonight, declined to comment.
A spokesman for the Football League said: “The law is quite clear and was recently upheld in the Leeds United case – clubs pay for any policing inside the ground and on immediately adjacent property under their control on matchday. Costs incurred away from the ground that are deemed necessary are covered by the state.
“People attending football matches or going about their lawful business are entitled to be protected by the police paid for by general taxation. Professional football in England contributes over £1bn to the Treasury and football fans pay their taxes just like everyone else.”
The force has previously questioned whether it could afford to continue policing high profile matches at Leeds.