SOCCER fans will have to forego their pre-match pint in Huddersfield tomorrow as police aim for a trouble-free derby game.
Pubs in the centre will close at 6pm as Town play host to Leeds United in the club’s biggest game of the season.
It’s part of a huge policing operation designed to prevent any problems from the thousands of fans.
The game at the Galpharm Stadium is expected to attract the biggest gate of the season and thousands of Leeds United fans will converge on the town.
The game is all-ticket, with Leeds selling out their entire allocation, and supporters will not be able to pay on the night.
Landlords decided to close their doors from 6pm to avoid any potential for trouble after Huddersfield Town plays its most high profile league game this season against Leeds United.
The crowd at the Galpharm Stadium could be as high as 20,000 and the 3,300 tickets allocated to Leeds United were quickly snapped up by their fans.
The fixture has always attracted fierce local rivalry – Town lost 4-0 at Elland Road in December – and both police and pub landlords would prefer fans to go straight home after the game which kicks off at 7.45pm.
The Pubwatch scheme covering pubs and bars in the town centre has decided to close their doors from 6pm and not re-open again.
A Pubwatch spokesman said: “We work closely with the police and decided the move would be in everyone’s interests. Tuesday is the quietest night in Huddersfield anyway and around half the venues are already closed every Tuesday.
“Shutting them all is a sensible precaution to avoid any potential for trouble.’’
He said the landlords were pleased the game was not on a Saturday and had been shifted to tomorrow after it was originally scheduled for Easter Tuesday.
The game was postponed then because of three international call-ups at the Elland Road club.
The Pubwatch spokesman added: “We are very happy the game is now tomorrow as it will have nil impact on the night-time economy in Huddersfield town centre.
“If the game had been on a Saturday it would have been very disruptive for everybody. Playing on a nondescript Tuesday is easier for everyone.’’
Chief Insp Ged McManus from Kirklees Police said the game is all-ticket so supporters cannot simply turn up and pay at the turnstiles – they must buy their tickets in advance.
Police have classified the game as Category C – their highest security rating – so there will be a highly visible police presence.
Chief Insp McManus added: “This is not the only Category C game in Huddersfield this season, but it is a big local derby and so has a sense of uniqueness.’’
He warned that the roads around the stadium will be congested both before and after the match.
“Our advice is to plan to arrive early so you have plenty of time to find somewhere to park,’’ he said. “And if you are not going to the game it would be best to avoid the Leeds Road area so you won’t get caught up in all the traffic.’’
Supporters travelling via the motorway are urged to use Junction 24 at Ainley Top and follow the signs for Huddersfield rather than Junction 25 at Brighouse.
Leeds United fans have already been given an early warning to behave on their trip to London to play Millwall on Saturday (April 19).
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “We want to send a clear message to fans that we will police match day fairly but firmly to ensure the game passes without incident and allow true football fans to enjoy the day.
“Our message to people planning to attend is simple – if you’re coming to enjoy the game safely and legally we’re here to help you do that, but if you plan to cause trouble you will find your efforts thwarted.”