Police will come down hard on derby game troublemakers

IPSWICH TOWN: Suffolk Police today vowed to come down hard on any troublemakers before, during and after next Easter’s Championship derby match against Norwich City on April 21.

And they revealed the reasons for switching the game back to the previous evening from its original Good Friday lunchtime date.

There are growing fears that staging the game after pubs have been open all day will lead to a potentially unsafe situation inside and outside the ground.

Superintendent David Skevington, partnerships and neighbourhoods superintendent for Ipswich confirmed the police’s intention to ensure the evening passes peacefully.

He said: “Derby games are exciting and important fixtures for fans of both clubs.

“We will not tolerate anti-social behaviour, violence, racial chanting, mindless vandalism or any alcohol fuelled disorder.

“We will police the game in accordance with our set standards and will continue our use of firm but fair policing to ensure the safety of those attending the game and those members of the public wishing to go about their normal business.

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“We want people to come into Ipswich and enjoy what the town has to offer but to behave respectfully and responsibly.

“We will use legislation available to us to prevent incidents escalating and maintain public safety by keeping those intent on disorder from the town.”

And explaining the reasons for the switch of date, superintendent Skevington went on:

““The decision to move the game from Good Friday to Maundy Thursday was made following extensive discussions between Suffolk Police and Ipswich Town FC.

“The main reasons for bringing the match forward are to avoid potential problems and the significantly increased costs which playing over the Easter holiday period may have generated.

“The potential problems include the reduction in traffic infrastructure (public transport) on a Bank Holiday.

“Concerns have also been raised by religious and faith groups of having the game on Good Friday.

“We need to be sensitive to the needs, concerns and expectations of all the communities we serve including fans, religious and faith groups, local businesses and families.”

Town chief executive Simon Clegg is pleased that Norwich game has been switched saying: “It’s a great win for the club and hopefully it will be on the day as well.”

He feels that supporters that cause trouble should pay when playing away from home and club secretary Sally Webb has already spoken to the Football League and asked other clubs for their thoughts.

“When you have a club like Leeds or Millwall come to Portman Road, who have got a reputation of having difficult fans, the police will grade the match higher than if we were playing Barnsley,” said Clegg.

And a derby would presumably fall into the same category.

“At the moment we have to bear those additional costs, although some of them are absorbed by the police and not the full cost is handed on in every instance.

“You could argue that it’s unfair that we as the home club have to absorb that additional cost of policing as a result of the behaviour and reputation of the away fans.

“The Football League are aware of our views and we will canvass support from other clubs to see how they feel. We are financially disadvantaged by certain clubs coming to this town.”

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