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Keystone Cops

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 19/02/2009

HUMBERSIDE Police have attempted to ban fans from attending Grimsby's derby match with Lincoln next month fearing trouble after the club insisted on a 3pm kick-off. The police asked the council to consider prohibiting either all fans - or just away fans - from attending the game. The council have refused.

The police had originally requested a noon kick-off but Town refused to comply, instead making a unilateral decision to play the game at 3pm, which prompted the police to approach North East Lincolnshire Council.

A spokesman for NELC tole the Grimsby Telegraph: "This decision was taken by the club after negotiations with Humberside Police failed to reach agreement as to the start time.

"The Divisional Commander, Chief Superintendent Hilditch, requested that the council consider prohibiting all away fans from attending the match or prohibit all fans from attending the match if the start time were 3pm."

The council were able to prevent fans from attending the game, but did not feel they had the need to do so.

"The council does have powers under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act to prohibit or restrict the admission of spectators to a sports ground if the council is satisfied there is a serious risk to the safety of spectators.

"In this light, the council carefully considered the evidence available to it but felt that public safety at Blundell Park was not being put at serious risk by a 3pm kick-off rather than a noon kick-off."

Grim Rob Says. Thank God the council have seen sense. The police seem to overplay the potential for crowd trouble at all matches involving GTFC, not just this one. How many times do you leave Blundell Park to see more officers and mounted police than there are away fans? Trouble at games is rare these days, and yet Humberside Police still have a highly visible presence both home and away. In my view this is often highly disproportionate to the potential for trouble, and in many cases a waste of local taxpayers' money. The number of people intent on trouble against Lincoln is no doubt very small, and the police will probably have nothing to do whenever the match kicks off.

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