Arsenal in row over who pays for match-day policing
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) are threatening to pull out of policing Arsenal matches outside of the stadium in a row over who should pay these costs.
Arsenal pay for officers inside the Emirates Stadium but the MPS says it can no longer fund the stewarding of fans travelling to and from Finsbury Park, Highbury and Islington and Arsenal stations.
Islington Council’s chief executive, Lesley Seary, went to Scotland Yard with her Haringey counterpart to try to avert the crisis, but the town hall refused to reveal the outcome of the talks.
The MPS wants football clubs in London to pay the cost of all match-day work done by police officers.
Terry Stacy, chairman of Highbury Safer Neighbourhoods Team, suggested that the club should cover the cost if the police pull out.
He said: “This is extremely concerning. Police play an important role in stewarding and getting from our stations to the stadium through the streets of Highbury. If would be utter chaos if they stopped.
“It’s a long-running debate about who should pay and I am not having a go at the club because they do great work in the community, but these clubs make a lot of money and I think they should contribute to policing outside the stadium.”
Arsenal’s yearly turnover is more than £200million and it pays over £3.5million, more than any other club in England, in business rates for the stadium.
The first Premier League game at the Gunners’ ground this season takes place on August 16 against Crystal Palace.
Commander Peter Terry, from the MPS specialist crime and operations unit, said: “For over a year now the MPS has been trying to get London football clubs to sign the Special Police Services Agreement which was drawn up to ensure football clubs bear the cost and any liability incurred for officers provided to police their football matches. Some clubs have already signed up to the agreement, however a large number have not yet signed and the new football season is fast approaching.
“Historically, officers from across London have been taken out of their boroughs to support policing at football matches, often many miles away from their local communities. Those officers would be better placed within their own wards and neighbourhoods to support local policing needs.”
A spokesman for the Islington Council said: “Match-day policing is a matter for the Met Police.”