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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