Crystal Palace go into the big Premier League kick-off tomorrow with a London politician demanding that the club pays a fairer share towards the costs of policing matches at Selhurst Park.
Palace was the only London club in the top two divisions last season to make no payments whatever to the Metropolitan Police for maintaining public safety on match days.
The total cost of policing Palace home games in the 2017-2018 season, according to City Hall figures, was £350,087.66.
Other London clubs contributed hundreds of thousands of pounds each towards their match policing bills.
One Palace season ticket-holder is Kenley councillor Steve O’Connell, who is also the Tory London Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton.
Coincidentally, O’Connell also happens to chair MOPAC, the City Hall committee which oversees the capital’s policing and Met’s budgets, and which has overseen swingeing budget cuts over the last eight years.
Andrew Dismore, a Labour Assembly Member, told Inside Croydon today, “Even if Palace’s costs are comparatively lower and, presumably, their fans better behaved, this just means that it is a smaller amount for the club to cover.
“Fundamentally, the cost is small scale when compared to Crystal Palace’s revenues and the amounts they spend on player transfers.”
According to figures from last season, that London’s tax-payers handed over a total of £5.24million for the policing of the capital’s football matches last season – enough to fund an extra 95 extra police officers in the capital.
While London’s football policing bill was 20 per cent less last season than 2016-2017, the football clubs covered only 7.7per cent of match day policing costs.
- In the Premier League last season, Tottenham had the highest policing costs at £1,201,382. Spurs paid a meagre £61,935 – 5per cent of the costs – back to the Met.
- Arsenal’s costs were £890,455. They reimbursed the Met Police with £123,877 (13.9per cent).
- Chelsea matches cost £936,252.84 to police, to which the club contributed £103,801.70 (11per cent).
- The other London Premier League club, West Ham, had policing costs of £583,703.10. They paid £106,311.10 (18per cent) to the police.
Even London clubs in the Championship made bigger contributions to the costs of maintaining law and order around their grounds than Palace did last term. Fulham, who won promotion and are Palace’s opposition tomorrow at Craven Cottage, made payments of £4,695.56 – 1per cent of policing costs of £430,937.30 last season.
In the pre-season transfer window, which closed yesterday, Fulham spent more than £100million on shoring up their squad for the Premier League challenges ahead.
Palace avoid paying over any cash to the police by relying on their own stewards inside Selhurst Park. Legislation dictates that clubs are only charged for policing inside the stadium, or on land that they own.
In the past eight years, Tory austerity measures applied have seen £720million-worth of budget cuts imposed on the Metropolitan Police.
“Top-flight London football clubs make huge revenues, so it is scandalous that they are not lawfully obliged to dig a lot deeper to pay for the substantial costs of match day policing,” Dismore said today.
“With police numbers falling to their lowest in 20 years, the money that these clubs have withheld from the Met could be used to fund almost 100 desperately needed officers. However, consistent and widespread calls for urgent change have so far been met with indifference from the Home Office.
“If we are to crack down on violent crime comprehensively, it is clear that we all need to come together in our communities and play our part in supporting local police forces,” Dismore, the Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden.
“While there needs to be drastic change in the law on the issue of match day policing costs, football clubs have a moral obligation to their community to come forward and properly pay their way to ensure that vital Met funding is not unnecessarily diverted.”
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Football Clubs have lived in this alternative reality for decades where they have no responsibility for their security problems their events create for the community in their area. This is the time for Premiership Clubs to be forced now to finally take on their responsibilities and a brave politician should front this up. There is no chance Steve O’Connell would do this Palace Supporter or not. He is a lazy cowardly and weak politician without one iota of gumption.
This is a cost whuch should be borne entirely by the clubs.
It is a fraction of the weekly wage bill for any Championship or Premiership club.
Premier League Football is a business and the policing of that business is for them to deal with. Granted there is no legal requirement for them to contribute to Policing outside of their property and they do pay towards policing via Business rates taxes etc. so asking them to pay more is perhaps not really fair to them. However the disruption to local areas caused by match day’s is far in excess of normal business not to mention the damage when things go wrong. You can blame the Club, Supporters, Police or Government all of whom to degree’s are at fault, but that does not deal with the issues
Clubs in London should engage effectively with Supporters and the Police and determine a reasonable and fair contribution to maintaining safety on matchdays. This can be done for example by a simple 2% levy on the ticket price paid by the club. (not Supporters who are seriously overcharged for their tickets already)
An alternative could be for Police to not provide any additional Policing for events and/or local residents to raise a Community trigger and look for a ban on events were local residents property and their safety cannot be guaranteed. Matchdays will face being cancelled, and some clubs who rely on this income will struggle as will the people who lose their jobs from cuts, thereby putting additional pressure on local services and the disreputable Universal Credit process.
I am sure there will then be legal arguments by the Clubs about restrictions of trade or other statutory instrument leading to the Met, Home Secretary or Mayor (not his fault – yet!) taken to task for all the cuts to the Met. All those entrenched positions will cause pain and hardship to everyone including the local community.
However looking at the many conceivable outcomes to this row, from no matches – Clubs move out of area, lost jobs- to better Policing and funding by Clubs or Central Government paying more for Policing, by the clubs winning in court – Having the matter sorted now can only be beneficial to communities, who have too often been the grist between the two hard and uncaring rocks of Business and Government for far too long.