Assembly puts the boot into football clubs for policing costs

During the 2015/16 football season, the number of police officers deployed to football clubs cost London taxpayers over £5 million net – that’s the equivalent of 93 constables. More recent evidence suggests the figure could be as high as almost £8 million net. The London Assembly agreed a motion today that asks Mayor Sadiq Khan to lobby the Government for a change in the law to allow the Metropolitan Police to recover policing costs. (Video here)

The Assembly also calls on the Mayor to write to professional football clubs in London asking them to voluntarily meet the costs incurred by the Metropolitan Police for policing their commercial activity.

Andrew Dismore AM,
who proposed the motion said:

“At a time of extreme pressure on the Met. Police budget, it is outrageous that clubs, who can afford to pay their players thousands upon thousands of pounds a week, expect the tax payer to pick up the bill for anything that happens outside their ground.

‘This is placing a big strain on Met resources and it’s time for clubs to dig deep. They are depriving London of nearly 100 extra officers a year, and it’s quite clear the law needs to change.

The figures are staggering. In the last 2015/2016 season:

Cost of policing Chelsea games: £762k. Recovered from the club: £103k

Cost of policing Spurs games: £741k. Recovered from the club: £39k

Cost of policing Arsenal games: £673k. Recovered from the club: £47k

Cost of policing West Ham games: £526k. Recovered from the club: £46k (old ground).

‘In the first three months alone of this season , West Ham incurred costs of £426k; and just one match, their New Year’s game against Manchester United, £76k with less than half recouped.

‘Yet West Ham can afford to spend £18 million a year on players’’ wages and £20.5 million on a single transfer fee.

‘Their game against Chelsea drew in 520 officers- that’s equivalent to the entire police force for an outer London borough.

‘The top clubs have freeloaded on the backs of Londoners for too long. They can afford to pay and should do so voluntarily, with or without a change in the law.

‘I am delighted that the London Assembly has supported this motion. The Home Secretary Amber Rudd must urgently intervene to ensure that Londoners are not left footing the eye-watering bill for these super rich clubs. While we wait for the Government to take action, London clubs should put their hands in their extremely deep pockets and stop sending taxpayers the bill.”

The full text of the Motion is:

This Assembly puts on record its dismay at the cost to Londoners of policing top flight football matches in the capital. In the 2015/16 season alone, the net cost of officers deployed to football club related operations across London was over £5 million – this would equate to 93 constables on the average salary.

In 2012, the High Court ruled that clubs can only be charged for policing inside the stadiums or on their land. There is no legal right for the Met to recover costs for managing travelling supporters or policing incidents that occur outside the ground.

At a time of increasing pressure on the Capital’s policing budgets it is unacceptable the Metropolitan Police Service should pay for the cost of policing the matches of football clubs who can afford to pay their players hundreds of thousands of pounds a week.

This Assembly calls on the Mayor to lobby the Government for changes to the law that would enable the Metropolitan Police Service to recover costs for policing operations outside of the stadium. In the meantime the Mayor should write to the capital’s professional football clubs and invite them to do the decent thing by agreeing on a voluntary basis to meet the full reasonable costs incurred by the Met of policing their commercial activities, including football matches.