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Fan Lock-out At Gillingham Over Policing Costs

Wed 11th Apr 2012 | Football Stadiums & Facilities

Gillingham Football Club’s League 2 game against Swindon Town could be under threat in a row over policing costs.

The match, due to take place on 21 April may have to take place behind closed doors after council officials issued a prohibition notice on the fixture.

A statement released by Medway Cllr Mike O’Brien, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Customer Contact, read:

“Due to a dispute between Gillingham FC and Kent Police about the costs and number of police officers needed at Priestfield Stadium for the match against Swindon Town on 21 April, we have unfortunately been left with no alternative but to issue a prohibition notice on the game preventing supporters from attending.”

Gillingham faced a similar situation earlier this year when their FA Cup Third Round match with Premier League side Stoke City was almost postponed over policing costs.

The row came after Kent Police issued ‘serious concerns’ over public order at Priestfield Stadium.

“We have done this following advice from Kent Police that they have specific intelligence concerning the match and its fans, the statement continued.

“We are satisfied that the intelligence provided shows the police are clearly right to have serious concerns about public order at the ground and that the risk is so serious for fans that, until steps have been taken to reduce it to a reasonable level through agreeing adequate policing levels, spectators will be prohibited from attending the match.

 “As the licensing authority, it is our responsibility to ensure football matches are safe for all attending the match.

“We fully sympathise with all the fans that want to watch this match and we sincerely hope that Gillingham FC and the police can get together urgently to resolve this matter and enable the match to go ahead with supporters from both clubs able to watch an exciting football match in a safe environment."

The issue of who should pay for the policing of football was reignited yesterday after ACC Andy Holt, told BBC Radio 5 live clubs should pay the full cost of managing games.

Posted by: Aaron Gourley

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