PLANS to transport Pompey supporters to Southampton by ‘coach bubble’ for next month’s derby clash have been met with mixed reactions among fans.
As reported in The News, up to 3,160 of the Fratton faithful will be escorted by police to St Mary’s stadium on two coach convoys for the April 7 championship fixture.
Police decided to use the same tactic deployed for December’s derby at Fratton Park after the clash passed without any major trouble.
Superintendent Rick Burrows who is leading the policing operation for the return fixture against Saints, said the safety of fans and the public is paramount.
But some concerns have been raised among Pompey fans.
Supporter Scott McLachlan said: ‘Personally I’m not going because I don’t agree this is the right way to do it. It’s a civil liberties issue for me. It’s ridiculous and a massive over-reaction.’
But Bill Gillon, who runs Pompey Online, said safety must come first: ‘The police and security would argue it worked really well the first time, which it did – it was effective and there was no trouble at all,’ he said.
‘Personally I feel if it does avoid trouble at these games it’s worth it.
‘I just wish it didn’t need to be like this’
Colin Farmery, True Blue Army website editor, said: ‘It’s sad in this day and age that going to a football match has come to procedures like this.
‘I will always be on the side of civil liberties.
‘I take the view that people in Portsmouth are capable of finding their way to Southampton to a football match without having to use this mechanism, but I can understand the police and the club will look at it and say there were no major incidents at the game at Fratton Park.
‘I fully appreciate that, but ultimately the argument is whether the end justifies the means. I will always come down on the side that I’m not sure they do but I can understand it.’
Pompey fans must travel to the clash – which will be policed by about 300 officers – via coach from Fratton Park or Lakeside North Harbour.
Supporters must book their coach travel by April 2 or they will not be able to go the game.
by CLARE SEMKE