With the cost of policing football matches in Lancashire potentially set to exceed £1m this season, the county's Police and Crime Commissioner has called on MPs to make more funds available to cover the 'significant' financial shortfall.
Writing to all Lancashire MPs in order to seek support for a change in the rules around the costs of policing football matches, commissioner Clive Grunshaw pointed out that policing related to football matches could exceed £1m this season, and despite clubs footing a large proportion of the bill, the constabulary is still left with a shortfall of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Last year in Lancashire, football policing cost the force in excess of £700,000, £530,000 of which was recovered from local clubs, leaving Lancashire Constabulary with a significant £170,000 shortfall. Due to a number of circumstantial changes, including Blackpool fans returning en masse and Chorley being promoted to the National League, this year the bill could be as high as £1m, incurring an estimated shortfall of over £384,000.
"Figures produced today by Lancashire Constabulary show why it is important for football clubs to pay their fair share of the costs towards policing football matches," said the commissioner. "Fans expect to feel safe on their way in and out of grounds and this is often where trouble can flare up.
"Football clubs last year generated record amounts with Premier League clubs enjoying over £5bn in revenue," he added. "Some of these record profits should be directed towards making sure fans and the wider public are safe in and around football grounds.
"I am calling on MPs from across Lancashire to join me in calling for a change to the law which allows for police forces to be able to recoup all associated costs of policing football matches. For clubs to experience record profits whilst Lancashire Constabulary picks up the tab isn’t fair to the hardworking taxpayers of Lancashire."
Estimates showing that costs could exceed £1m take into account current risk and threat levels and the potential for various cup matches. What is more, should intelligence necessitate an increased presence for whatever reason, this would lead to increased costs to Lancashire Constabulary, with a recent report finding that despite policing football matches costing constabularies £48m last year, just £5.5m was recovered from football clubs.
This follows a legal ruling - The 'Ipswich Ruling' - which determined which costs a police force could charge for, outlining the determination that police forces can only charge football clubs for officers deployed inside the stadia, despite it being increasingly the case that most football-related offences and disorders take place outside.