No 'police bubble' for Portsmouth versus Southampton match at Fratton Park

POLICE have ruled out running a ‘bubble' operation when Pompey and Southampton play at Fratton Park in the Carabao Cup.

Thursday, 5th September 2019, 5:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th September 2019, 6:07 pm

The rivals are set to clash later this month for the third round of the competition– but officers have ruled out an operation that saw Southampton fans bussed in on dedicated coaches to Portsmouth and then taken back again.

Tuesday, September 24 will be the first time that the heated rivals have met since April 2012.

On that day Pompey travelled to St Mary’s and David Norris rescued a famous point with a late strike deep in injury time.

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Police confront football hooligans outside Fratton Park following the match against Southampton in 2004. Picture: Malcolm Wells (041492-131)

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Previously Southampton fans had to travel to Portsmouth by coach – or they wouldn’t be allowed into Fratton Park.

Fans were also given vouchers ahead of the game which could then be exchanged for match tickets upon arrival at the ground in areas designated by police.

A total of 42 coaches were led into Portsmouth in a ‘bubble’ convoy surrounded by a heavy police escort and there was a rolling road block put in place to ensure the vehicles could make it to Fratton Park quickly and safely.

But this will not be the case later this month.

A Hampshire police spokeswoman said: ‘We know what this match means to both sets of fans and we are working closely with both clubs to help make sure that the fans are able to enjoy this much-anticipated cup tie.

‘We have to make sure our policing response is proportionate, able to deal swiftly with anyone looking to cause trouble and, at the same time, not disrupt the lives of those who are not going to watch the match.

‘We have significant experience of policing matches involving these two teams over the years and we will be drawing on these experiences and the different approaches we used to ensure it is a safe match for all those attending, as well as those living and working around Fratton Park.

‘Having met with both clubs and shared our initial plans with them, we are now in a position to confirm that our policing operation will not mirror what was done in 2012 when the clubs last met.

‘Our priority, as always, is public safety and we are confident that we have a wide range of different tactics available to us to best tackle any disruption by those who are intent on causing disorder. We also feel that these tactics need to suit the timing of a match that will be taking place on a Tuesday evening.

‘As with any policing operation of this nature, there will be some elements that people will not be able to see but as our plans progress, we will be able to share more details of our more visible tactics.’