A NEW row has broken out over the policing of a soccer game in Huddersfield.
Emails obtained by fans show that police chiefs were warned they may be seen to be “acting irrationally” by imposing travel restrictions on Hull City fans due to travel to a game at Huddersfield Town.
And now a fans’ leader in Huddersfield has insisted on action.
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“The very least we should have is an apology”, said Steve King, chairman of the Huddersfield Town Supporters Association.
“The emails are damning and show the way the police depict football supporters. It is pretty disgusting.”
Fans of both clubs mounted a vociferous protest over the Draconian measures.
And now it has emerged that the police intelligence before the game last season revealed “no reported issues”.
When the match did take place, it passed off without incident and there were noisy but peaceful protests by both sets of fans in Huddersfield town centre before the game.
The furore erupted after Sky TV decided to televise the match and the kick-off was arranged for 5.20pm.
West Yorkshire Police insisted that only 1,500 tickets would be made available to Hull fans and that initially they would all have to travel to the game by coach from Hull.
But a series of internal West Yorkshire Police emails have been released which appear to show the force’s own legal team voiced concern over the travel restrictions.
The emails – obtained by a supporters’ group official under a Freedom of Information request – showed legal experts advised the police legal team the restrictions would be found to be irrational, as similar restrictions were not imposed for a different game.
The force said it acknowledged “there were some issues”.
In an internal police email, the force’s legal department stated: “There is a risk that a court would find that we have acted irrationally in agreeing to the Leeds v Derby game with no restrictions (when Leeds have a far worse record for disorder than either Huddersfield or Hull and when there is evidence of recent disorder between Leeds and Derby fans)...”
Hull fans were angry, with some boycotting the game and others holding a protest in Huddersfield ahead of the kick-off on the day of the match.
Mr King said: “These are very damning messages.
“It is shocking the way the police regard soccer fans. It is also offensive to suggest, as some emails appear to do, that Huddersfield Town have given details of their concerns to fans. We have always had a completely professional relationship with Town and I imagine they are not best pleased.
“I think the minimum we should now have is an apology from the police. The way they have treated supporters is disgusting.”
In a statement, West Yorkshire Assistant Chief Constable Craig Guildford said: “Public safety and the provision of a safe environment for everyone including fans, officers and people who live and work near grounds is always our priority.
“We acknowledge there were some issues around that particular match, but are always working to see how we can improve communication, travel and policing arrangements.”
Hull City said its club officials would meet today to discuss a response.