Fans protest about prospect of being bussed to games

DEBATE From left, Supt Rick Burrows, barrister Alex Gask, and former Pompey player Alan McLoughlin.   Picture: Paul Jacobs (113749-1)
DEBATE From left, Supt Rick Burrows, barrister Alex Gask, and former Pompey player Alan McLoughlin. Picture: Paul Jacobs (113749-1)
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POMPEY fans are angry about the idea of having to catch official buses to Southampton when the team next plays Saints away.

Supporters put a panel of experts on the spot over the proposals, which could see fans only being allowed to travel by coach to April’s away Saints game.

The ‘Watching Football Is Not a Crime’ event at The Rifle Club, in Goldsmith Avenue, Southsea, last night was hosted by former Pompey star Alan McLoughlin.

It saw barristers, a safety officer and police superintendent Rick Burrows take questions from the floor over the plans, which are already in place for Saints fans who have booked tickets for the league clash in Portsmouth on December 18.

Saints supporters will only be allowed into Fratton Park if they have travelled on coaches from St Mary’s – which means all Saints fans will have to go to Southampton first before getting a coach, even if they live in Portsmouth.

Fans will not be allowed into the stadium if they make their own way there.

The move, agreed by police in a bid to tackle potential trouble, could be repeated for Pompey fans going to the game at Southampton if it is successful.

Lifelong Pompey fan Barry Dewing, 49, from Milton, told the panel: ‘It’s going to take the fun out of Fratton Park and being a football fan.

‘Supporters are singled out as easy targets. The majority of us are well behaved and don’t cause any trouble. The measures are too extreme.’

Ray Gillen, 53, from Fratton, said: ‘This is overkill by the police.

‘Is there really a need to contain fans just because there might be a chance of violence? It’s 2011, this isn’t the 1970s any more.

‘It’s the minority that causes any problems.’

Supt Rick Burrows, who is in charge of policing at Fratton Park and St Mary’s, said: ‘This urban myth has been created which has created trouble over the years on derby day.’

‘Coach travel will contain fans and minimise the risk of trouble. I want to protect decent supporters so that they are not subjected to foul behaviour. It’s about maintaining public order.’

Stephen Field, a barrister at London’s One Pump Court, said: ‘Fans will never buy into their own self-containment. It’s offensive and it denies them their human right to go how they like.’

Police will review the strategy at the end of the season.