Policing costs for Crawley Town home matches nearly quadrupled last year, even though the Reds were relegated to League Two.
Figures released by Sussex Police show that the cost of policing matches at the Checkatrade.com Stadium dramatically increased, even though the number of arrests remained at zero and attendances dropped by 11 per cent.
The figures show a year-on-year rise from the 2011/12 season to the current campaign.
Stewarding costs inside grounds are paid for by football clubs, but the police presence in the areas surrounding the stadiums are covered by the police.
|SEASON||TOTAL COST||TOTAL ARRESTS||TOTAL ATTENDANCE||AVG PER GAME|
|2016/17||£240.63 (as of 16/08/2016)||–||–|
Figure 1: Policing costs for Crawley Town FC matches from 2011-2016.
Sussex Police say that the increase in price is due to the cost of policing matches being higher, as they look to have a third season in a row without a single arrest.
Said a spokesperson: “We have had zero arrests over the past two seasons, and this is down to hard work and planning from our matchday team.
“There have been several measures taken for the 2016/17 season to ensure that we have another arrest-free year. We have a great relationship with Crawley Town FC and the supporters, and we would like to thank them for their cooperation.”
Crawley Town refused to comment on the recent cost increase, but when asked about the factors contributing to zero arrests over the past couple of seasons, a club spokesperson said: “It is down to sensible policing and stewarding.
“We work hard as a club to maintain a fan-friendly environment at the Checkatrade.com Stadium.”
Crawley were one of four clubs out of the 92 in the top four tiers of English football to have no football-related arrests during the 2014/15 season, alongside Dagenham and Redbridge, MK Dons and Morecambe.
Nationally, the numbers of football-related arrests are falling. Across the country there were 1,873 arrests made during the season Crawley were relegated from League One, which was 400 (18 per cent) fewer than in 2013/14.
Last year, Labour’s Andrew Dismore called for London’s major football clubs to pay the Metropolitan Police’s £1.9million bill for policing Premier League matches in the capital during the 2013/14 season.
He argued that if the clubs can afford to pay players’ hundreds of thousands of pounds-a-week wages, then they should be able to cover policing costs. However, there is no legal right that the police can recover these costs from football clubs.
The club cost of policing football matches in the capital are decreasing year-on-year however, after Leeds United argued that the surrounding areas of Elland Road stadium were the police’s responsibility and that the club should not have to pay.
The High Court ruled in the club’s favour, and agreed that a football club was only responsible for policing within its ground or on its land.
A factor contributing to the decrease in top flight policing costs include the fact that there are more more CCTV cameras operating in football stadiums, plus improvements in thorough planning and organising from stewards working on behalf of the club.
Technological advances have played a key role in making football stadiums and surrounding streets a safer environment in recent years.
The past two seasons have been frustrating for Reds fans after being relegated from English football’s third tier on the final day of the 2014/15 season, and financial strain in their first campaign back in League Two; a time in which the club battled to keep their Football League status alive.
However, with new owners and under a new regime, a summer of ins and out, plus gaining seven out of nine points available at the start of the Sky Bet League Two season, many fans are optimistic that there are better days ahead at the Checkatrade.com Stadium.
A spokesperson for the League Two side insisted that the club has always had, and still has, an excellent relationship with Sussex Police.