South Yorkshire Police told local newspaper The Star that they spent £1.3 million policing local football games last season – which are made up of Barnsley. Doncaster Rovers, Rotherham, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday.
Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts says that unless things change SY Police won’t be able to maintain policing at an acceptable manner which could mean that away fans might have to be banned from games.
Mr Roberts also says he’s not attacking football clubs and they are paying what they are legally obliged to under the current regulations but also says that if a better way to fund policing isn’t found then clubs are going to have to do more. Ways to do that would be to ban alcohol from stadiums and introducing early morning kick off times.
The Millers have had earlier kick-off times in the past, mainly games starting at 12 noon or 1pm, but I rather think that Mr Roberts is talking about 10 am or 11 am kick-off times. If, as I suspect, the idea of that would be to stop fans having as long to drink alcohol wouldn’t pubs just open earlier and serve’ breakfast’?
And as I think most fans don’t want to pay the price of alcohol in the stadiums and go to pubs before a game, I think the only way banning drink in stadiums would work would be if they were to stop serving alcohol an hour before kick-off and not at all at half-time?
Banning away fans from the stadium would surely be a last resort. This would hurt the home club by bringing less money to the club and the atmosphere would also suffer which would probably end up with less home fans attending games. If they are serious about banning fans, maybe they are going to have to say that away fans can only be season ticket holders and/or only travel on official coaches, which alcohol is not allowed on. This would be a pain for people who don’t actually live in the town and those who like to travel on trans or by other means. It would also mean that there would be no tickets available on the day for away fans.
Still on the subject of tickets I have to say that when buying away tickets from the New York Stadium it is always Season Ticket Holders who can buy them first, but just one. Then it is fans who are Mayday Members, again only one ticket can be purchased. But when it comes to tickets going on General Sale people can purchase, I believe, up to nine tickets – one ticket for themselves (who has to be on the club’s data base) and eight more for anyone else.
I can only think of one game that caused problems inside and outside the New York Stadium since it opened although I have heard of times when there has been problems away from the ground. I was caught up in trouble outside the Keepmoat Stadium when we played Doncaster Rovers last season which, by the way, was an early kick-off.
I’m hoping none of these compromises have to come to fruition after all Rotherham United have a few local derbies in the coming season which none of us will want to miss.