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Police say Premier League donation will not influence decisions around safety

Trouble flared at The Hawthorns on Sunday in the Black Country derby between West Brom and Wolves (Bradley Collyer/PA)
Trouble flared at The Hawthorns on Sunday in the Black Country derby between West Brom and Wolves (Bradley Collyer/PA)

The UK Football Policing Unit says a financial donation from the Premier League will have no influence on the decisions forces make around kick-off times and match safety.

The PA news agency understands the Premier League intends to make an unconditional ‘gift’ to police forces which have one or more top-flight clubs within their force area.

The payment, first reported by Mail Sport on Monday, is understood to be being made to recognise and thank the police for the role forces play in ensuring the safety and security of football fans and clubs across match days and beyond.

The UKFPU has rejected the idea that the payment could change the approach forces take to deciding kick-off times.

“The decision whether to object to a kick-off time is an operational matter for individual police forces,” a statement from the unit read.

“It is then subject to an independent assessment by the relevant Safety Advisory Group who will make a recommendation to the licensing authority, usually the local authority.

“Public safety is always the primary concern in making these decisions. The suggestion that a donation by the Premier League would influence a police decision around safety is wrong and ill informed as to the process.”

It is understood it will be left entirely to the forces’ discretion how they make use of this payment, which will be in addition to what clubs pay for specialist police services as required within their stadiums and surrounding areas that are owned and controlled by the club.

The news regarding the payment comes at a time when football’s authorities, fan groups and the police are trying to get to grips with a series of ugly incidents over the last month.

West Midlands Police said on Monday that six individuals had been arrested, with more expected to follow, over the disorder at Sunday’s West Brom versus Wolves FA Cup tie, a match which kicked off at 11.45am.

Play in the Black Country derby at The Hawthorns was suspended for more than half an hour after trouble flared in the stands and fans spilled onto the pitch.

The previous day a supporter chased referee Craig Hicks off the pitch during the League One match between Port Vale and Portsmouth, while Coventry’s Kasey Palmer reported he was racially abused by a fan during his side’s Championship match against Sheffield Wednesday on January 20.

The English game’s key bodies have now spoken out.

“We are very concerned about the unacceptable events that have taken place in some of our stadiums recently,” a joint statement from the Football Association, the Premier League, the EFL, the National League System, Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the League Managers’ Association, the Football Supporters’ Association and the UK Football Policing Unit said.

“Acts of discrimination, violence and entering the field of play are all criminal offences – which can result in individuals receiving criminal convictions, football banning orders and life-time stadium bans.

“While we understand that this behaviour is carried out by a small minority, we wish to remind everyone that these actions will not be tolerated and we will collectively work together, alongside the police, to bring offenders to justice and stamp this out of our game.”