Met Police chief is right to put the boot into the Premier League, writes Henry Riley

17 January 2024, 16:40 | Updated: 18 January 2024, 08:56

Premier League clubs should stump up money for policing, writes Henry Riley
Premier League clubs should stump up money for policing, writes Henry Riley. Picture: Alamy
Henry Riley

By Henry Riley

It isn’t a state secret that top-tier football clubs are owned by people who make a lot of money.

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But not only that, they also aren’t run by stingy, parsimonious types either. They are often all-too-happy to spend their millions on a regular basis to attract the best players.

What seems totally incomprehensible, however, is that they do not shell out for the policing of their matches when they are spending millions this month during the January transfer window.

Sir Mark Rowley explained on LBC this morning that in 2023 alone, policing Premier League football matches cost them £18.5 million. In other words cost you £18.5 million.

I don’t dispute that kind of money being spent when it is policing protests, or even major one-off events like the coronation.

But when you have such a lucrative industry as the Premier League, which can and should pay its way, how else is it to be interpreted as slap in the face?

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And on that basis, the Met Commissioner is absolutely right when he told Nick Ferrari that the clubs should stump up.

It seems ludicrous that when I exit Highbury and Islington station to go and see my beloved Arsenal (on the rare occasion when you can actually get a ticket), that the abundance of officers dotted around the station, footpaths and outside the Emirates Stadium are being paid out of what are already very stretched resources.

Just to put it in perspective - the Premier League clubs who seem reluctant to cough up spent £815 million during last years January transfer window. Over £800 million in one month.

Chelsea pay not a penny for the officers stationed near and outside Stanford Bridge, and yet spent £323 million alone last January.

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The police chief did explain that there is a small cost incurred for those officers who physically go into the ground - paid for by the club - but anyone who has been to a top-tier football match will tell you this is minuscule compared to the sheer number of officers including mounted police waiting outside well before, during and long after games.

Indeed Lord Triesman, the former head of the FA, told me he agreed with Sir Mark Rowley. He said, rightly, that for clubs struggling financially in lower divisions that it would be impracticable but that “the money available at the top of the pyramid is huge and growing”.

The Labour peer added “there isn’t a good reason why the taxpayer, who may have nothing to do with football, should pay it at all”.

Why on earth should non football fans even be contributing if they have no interest in ‘the beautiful game’?

At a time where the police are undoubtedly stretched, and whilst top football clubs are regularly spending millions, it would seem like a huge open goal to get them to - at the very least - pay their own way.