On Tuesday a very short debate took place in the House of Commons under the title “Cost of Policing Football” which was convened by Gill Furniss who is the Labour MP for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough and also is the shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Minister. Apart from Gill and Nick Hurd the Home Office Minister there were only two other MPs who contributed to the debate. Gill made a statement which contains some details that are worth repeating “South Yorkshire police incurs significant match day costs. According to the BBC, the steel city derby between Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United in September 2017 was the country’s most expensive match to police that year, costing over £200,000. Figures from South Yorkshire police, using a recent improved methodology for calculating match day policing costs, put the cost of this April’s steel city derby at Hillsborough at £203,000. That is against a backdrop of unprecedented cuts to our police services …. the football policing lead for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, has put the cost of policing professional football matches in England and Wales at over £48 million a year, of which police are able to claim back only around £5.5 million from clubs. Why are the police repaid only a fraction of their costs?”
It is clearly very frustrating that football teams like Brighton and Hove Albion whose owners have invested literally millions of pounds on infrastructure to help reduce the need for large numbers of police officers to participate in their games do not get acknowledged in this debate. However even in our city it is vital that the public do not get charged for having a football stadium in their area. However the response by Nick Hurd which included the following comments is clearly half hearted and he and his colleagues need to ramp up their commitment to changing the way in which these things work.
“The hon. Lady made a point that I think everyone will understand about the enormous amounts of money in the game or, more specifically, at the top of the game. People will rightly wonder why on earth rich football clubs do not do more to contribute to the costs of policing their games, given how much money they earn from them…The Premier League pays a great deal of tax. Football supporters are taxpayers—indeed, they will argue that they are entitled to a service—and the Premier League will ask why football should be singled out in this context. Those are all arguments to be had and to be made. I give a commitment to the hon. Lady, and to other interested colleagues, that I will meet the Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend Mims Davies, next week to talk specifically and exclusively about how we can structure a better, fairer partnership between police and football and, in doing so, reduce the demand on police resources. I am open-minded about how we do that, including about looking at all current frameworks and arrangements.”