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Does Leeds Court Case Win Give Other Clubs a Boost?

Football News 24/7
Leeds United Chairman Ken Bates may have been delighted at the club's High Court victory over Poilice costs.

The High Court has ruled in their favour.after the Championship outfit asked for the court to clarify which services supplied by West Yorkshire Police for the previous three seasons fell under special police services, after paying for the policing during this period themselves.

This involved policing around the extended areas around the stadium, and Mr Justice Eady ruled it should not be ruled as special police services and the club should be repaid.

He said: "More generally, it seems wrong to discount the majority of well-behaved fans who come to Elland Road, whether club supporters or visitors, all of whom retain their status as members of the public. In that capacity, they too are entitled to expect police protection.

"In any event, I consider that there would be insuperable difficulties in seeking to sub-divide people, in public highways and other spaces, when trying to assess to whose benefit such duties were carried out.

"They are intended to keep the Queen's peace in the interests of the general public.

"During the season, home matches take place generally once a fortnight. One can only admire the stoicism of such officers who are required to carry out these stressful duties, not because of some genuine emergency, but simply as a matter of routine."

He also refused to deny his ruling could have a lasting impact on other services such as cycle races on public roads or by escorting articulated lorries.

"The situations are not comparable,” he added. “Police officers performing such duties are not there, normally, for the purpose of preventing public disorder or crimes of violence."

Wigan Athletic took similar action against Greater Manchester Police in 2010 and a similar decision was arrived at then although the main point was a question of what had or hadn't been agreed.

The Court of Appeal handed down judgment in the case of Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police v Wigan Athletic AFC Limited.

In the Wigan case the Court of Appeal  held  that a football club is not obliged to pay for a level of policing that has been provided in circumstances where it has made clear from the outset that it is not prepared to pay for it, notwithstanding that it has received the benefit of that level of policing.

In these circumstances there is no request for that level of policing for the purposes of s.25 Police Act 1996, no contract, and no liability in restitution.

In combination both judgements seem to make it crystal clear. Clubs pay for policing within their own property, but anything else the Police themselves have to pick up the bill.

Given that Police costs can be easily in five figures, even for small clubs in certain fixtures, there will plenty of Chairmen and Chief Executives examining their own Police bills in recent seasons.

All clubs want is a consistent set of guidelines, and the same rules in different parts of the country. Different Police authorities have taken different approaches.

LK

 


 

 

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