POLICE have defended plans to delay the exit of some Huddersfield Town fans following Saturday’s Derby with Leeds United.
Officers say they have considered “all the options” and believe their plans for the crunch fixture are the best way to ensure the safety of fans.
Kirklees Superintendent Mick Wharton says while the obvious solution would be to detain away fans after the final whistle, this would increase the pressure on resources.
Instead home supporters are being asked not to move from the Riverside Stand to the South Stand car park as controls will be in place.
Police want to avoid a repeat of last season when there were clashes after the game.
The police chief said: “We have discussed with the club how to manage the end of game at some length over a number of seasons and different approaches have been taken.
“The overriding consideration in these deliberations is public safety.
“At first glance the solution may appear obvious in that we could hold back the Leeds fans until the majority of home supporters clear the site.
“This has been seriously considered, but to ensure the Leeds supporters stay in their seats would require a massive stewarding and police operation when these staff are required elsewhere.
“If we try to hold the large numbers of Leeds fans on the stairwell exits we also raise the chances that someone will be seriously injured or worse due to the steep layout of the stand.
“As our overriding concern is public safety, we cannot consider this option.
“This season we are trying to keep the two main groups apart simply by asking home supporters not to come down the Riverside to the South stand car park as there will be control mechanisms in place.
“Home fans can exit the ground at any time they wish from the Kilner Bank stand, or they can walk towards Leeds Road from the Riverside. Clearly for those who are parking their vehicles on the South Stand car park there will be some delay, so asking them to consider waiting in their seats rather than elsewhere seems a sensible request.
“We will, however, be working with stewards to clear the South Stand car park as quickly as possible and let everyone go home safely.
“At the end of the day I am asking for 20 minutes of patience from a relatively small number of people so that everyone can enjoy the match and leave in a controlled manner at the end of the game.”
In terms of policing operations West Yorkshire Police called it one of the biggest events of the season.
Huge numbers of police and stewards will be on duty at the Stadium and on approaches to and from the town centre before and after the match.
In an email to the club operations director, Ann Hough, season ticket holder Chris Watts wrote: “Would you not accept that on reflection, the irritation/inconvenience caused to 4,000 away fans being kept inside the Pink Link stand for a period is far less than the irritation/inconvenience caused to up to 16,000 home fans being kept inside the Britannia/Pink Link stands and that therefore the safety risk and risk of adverse fan reaction (and Public Disorder) is therefore less if you detain the away fans?”
A spokesman for the club said: “Our primary responsibility is to ensure safety.
“It is understood that people have complaints but the superintendent has done his best to explain the decision.
“A key factor is that away coaches are allowed access straight to the back of the stand so it is easier to get them away and we have conveyed that to the fans.”
SUPPORTERS travelling via the motorway are being asked to use Junction 24, following signs for Huddersfield rather than Junction 25.
Motorist should consider alternative routes using Brighouse and the A641 Bradford Road.
Expect delays if travelling to the event via the A62 Leeds Road corridor.
All routes into Huddersfield could be busy and congested in the lead up to the game