HUDDERSFIELD Town fans were angered last night as police and Town revealed segregation plans for Saturday’s big derby.
Huddersfield fans will be banned from leaving the John Smith’s Stadium through the St Andrew’s Road exits until long after the end of the game with Leeds United.
Police and stewards will stop them using the St Andrew’s car park and Stadium Way until the 4,000 Leeds fans have been dispersed.
It is intended as a safety measure but has caused anger and resentment among fans.
The policy was used last season at the home game against Sheffield Wednesday and left thousands of fans to face a long walk along Leeds Road back to their cars or the town centre.
Many have accused the club of inconveniencing Town fans.
The club had asked the Safety Advisory Panel and West Yorkshire Police about the possibility of holding Leeds fans in the stadium at the end of the game.
The response from the police was that to do so would create “a disproportionately significant risk to the safety of not only those fans, but also the police and stewards.”
Fans told of their frustration ahead of policing plans to restricting their exit along Stadium Way after Saturday’s game.
The match has a 12.30pm kick-off and will be greeted with a massive police presence both at the Stadium and in the town centre.
West Yorkshire Police say they are working with Huddersfield Town to ensure safety of fans exiting the npower Championship game.
But the proposed move to restrict Town fans leaving via Stadium Way has already proved unpopular, with fans venting their frustration on forums.
The restrictions will force fans who are parked in St Andrew’s car park, to walk the long way round along Leeds Road.
The Examiner understand police and stewards will form a line at the rear of the Direct Golf and Britannia Rescue Stands, preventing Town fans from exiting past the South Stand.
A joint statement issued by Town, the stadium's Safety Advisory panel and West Yorkshire Police, reads: “In the interests of public safety and as per previous games, home fans can exit the ground at any time but are advised to exit via the north end of the site as there will be control measures for accessing Stadium Way.
“Clearly for those who are parking their vehicles on the St Andrew’s Road car park or to the south side of the Stadium there will be some delay, so we would ask affected fans to wait in their seats for a short period of time.”
“The police will work with the stewards to clear the St Andrew’s Road car park as quickly as possible and we would ask home fans to plan their exit route in advance so everyone can have a safe journey home.”
Stephen King, chairman of the Huddersfield Town Supporters Association, said: “I have asked the club and the stadium officers to explain their policy.
“It seems to me that because the police cannot control the Leeds fans, they have pledged to control all the Town fans.
“I will be seeking a meeting with West Yorkshire Police as soon as possible to try and understand the disparities in policing this fixture in Huddersfield and Leeds. Town fans have been kept inside the stadium for up to 45 minutes at Leeds after the final whistle.”
See the next page for reaction from fans.
MORE Leeds United games have had kick-offs changed – on police advice.
They include the Town derby game at Elland Road on March 16.
The game was originally scheduled to kick off at 3pm but will now start at 12.30pm, as does Saturday’s game at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Other Leeds United games rearranged are against Cardiff City, Millwall and Sheffield Wednesday.
Leeds hit the headlines earlier this season when fans caused trouble at Sheffield Wednesday, with one attacking goalkeeper Chris Kirkland.
TOWN fans have vented their anger on websites over the policing plans.
Among the many comments on the DownAtTheMac fansite were:
MoonTerrier: “So the infamous exit strategy is in place again for Saturday, because the powers that be are so scared of these from up the road. We are punished again, why do we not keep them in the ground? Why do we not inconvenience them for a change? We should be allowed to do our normal thing and not be frightened of upsetting the Leeds fans!”
Jimmy Nicholson Terrier: “It sounds like their lot can’t be controlled so we have to suffer once again. A lot of season ticket holders probably won't bother going.”
Billy Smith Terrier: “I can't remember ever being stopped from going out the usual way after any game (ie out of the South end of the Kilner Bank, then through the car park, down and round onto Stadium Way)”.
tedchippington wrote: “I already know of people not going and when you read the official site with this on it , it certainly puts some older people or people with kids off”.
Mick Buxton Terrier: “Punished is a tad harsh , inconvenienced maybe! I’m sure I heard the reason they don't keep the away fans in is because the ‘holding space’ behind the South Stand is too small to house 4,000 fans safely”.
Doc Halladay 32 wrote: “So why not keep them in their seats then? We must be the only club in the country that inconveniences home fans! Anywhere else in the country and the Leeds fans would be held back until the home fans had dispersed.”
Andy Booth Terrier: “It's a stupid policy. End of.”
Iwan Roberts Terrier said: “We pay £350 to go to every home game, behave ourselves at every game, yet when Leeds come to Town we are treated like this. They pay £27 and we bend over backwards for them. No doubt the police bill will be massive, yet it's the fans that don't trouble the police that suffer. I'm sure those paying £36 will be kept behind after the reverse fixture while West Yorkshire's finest allow the Leeds fans to congregate, ready for the Town fans’ exit.”