Police pleaded for Louis Carey testimonial match to be called off
THE full extent of police concern about serious disorder at this summer's Bristol City v Bristol Rovers friendly has been revealed.
Letters between senior officers and the committee organising Louis Carey's testimonial match at Ashton Gate on August 4 have been published. In them, the police make repeated pleas for the game not to go ahead.
In reply, the testimonial committee make the unusual suggestion that the £40,000 cost of the match could be reduced, but the full amount paid if there was fighting between fans.
On May 25, Chief Superintendent Andy Francis wrote to David Fear, one of the main organisers of the match, asking him to call it off.
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Citing the force's commitment to help police the Olympics, he wrote: "I would urge you in the strongest possible terms to reconsider your plans.
"We are already receiving strong intelligence to indicate this match will result in significant public disorder in Bristol and this will require me to dedicate substantial policing resources to manage the risk.
"In my view this 'friendly' match is being arranged without consideration for the impact on the wider Bristol community and on the impact on policing resources despite our earlier request to avoid such games at this time."
Mr Fear, in an e-mail to the force on May 30, says: "I note that the policing costs will rise from a high category C fixture of £22,000 plus VAT to £40,000 plus VAT...this quite clearly will have huge implications on the fixture with costs for policing and stewarding rising from £47,929 to £69,529.
"My personal opinion is that we will cancel the fixture as we could not hope to guarantee that figure as a basis to go forward. This will cause a huge public debate as previously stated and all parties should try to avoid this at all costs.
"May I please propose the following as a one-off experiment? The game goes forward on the basis of a minimum charge of Class C band, and a maximum charge of £40,000 should any trouble take place?
"This would enable both clubs to open a debate with all our supporters about the responsibility of full cost recovery, and the effect it can potentially have on the whole future of football in this country in general."
That claim was rejected by Avon & Somerset, but the game went ahead, ending in a 3-0 win for City.
Although there were some flashpoints on the day, a heavy police presence ensured there were no serious incidents, despite the presence on the day of groups of hooligans intent on trouble.
In the end, the overall cost of the police operation was £112,000 – £40,000 of which came from the testimonial committee.