Yorkshire’s football clubs bring much to our region – both in economic benefits from the jobs and local businesses they support and the more intangible but arguably even more important sense of community they offer to their loyal supporters; the families, friends and neighbours who share the highs and lows of backing their local team together.
However, new figures show they can also come at a cost, with more than £2.3m being spent on policing games in West and South Yorkshire in the first half of last season alone.
While clubs paid half of that total figure, for some matches their contribution was much smaller. The most expensive Championship match to police, the Sheffield derby, cost South Yorkshire Police £203,000, with the home side Sheffield Wednesday only invoiced for £41,000.
With police budgets increasingly stretched and fan behaviour generally much improved from the dark days of hooliganism in the 1970s and 1980s, the Football Supporters’ Federation is now questioning whether a “risk-averse” approach to policing matches is leading to more officers than is necessary being sent to some games.
However, match commanders are in an invidious position; the sad reality is disorder still can and does occur at football matches attended by tens of thousands of supporters and there needs to be sufficient officers on-hand to deal with such incidents. Supporters have a responsibility that their own behaviour at matches minimises the need for police action and ensures the benefits of the beautiful game are not lost.