Football ID cards via the back door?

Football Supporters' Federation statement on proposed ticket restrictions for the Brighton and Hove Albion-Crystal Palace play-off semi-finals:

Fans make up the vast majority of "stakeholders" within the game. The decision to impose unusually stringent ticketing restrictions on supporters seems to have been done without properly consulting the Eagles’ or Seagulls’ fan base.

Given the reports that the Metropolitan Police wanted to ban away fans completely from this vital fixture, is it reasonable to assume that the clubs had no real choice other than to impose these conditions of sale? It sets a worrying precedent.

Chief Inspector Paul Betts of Sussex Police says he was "delighted with the behaviour of both sets of fans when the teams last met at the Amex". So why the need for such a heavy-handed approach?

The FSF is absolutely opposed to football violence but history has shown that the best policing methods target individual perpetrators. Unfairly targeting entire groups serves only to annoy and inconvenience the vast majority of law-abiding fans.

It’s a counterproductive strategy as the best policing is done by consent, not coercion.

Forcing fans to carry ID if they want to get into a game seems entirely unnecessary. Would these restrictions be placed on any other event? The latest Home Office figures show that football arrests are down by a quarter and there’s only one arrest for every 15,782 spectators.

Compare that to the Notting Hill Carnival which had 299 arrests last year, or one in every 8,361 people based on Visit London’s attendance estimate of 2.5m people. There would quite rightly be an outcry if police forced the Carnival’s attendees to carry ID under threat of expulsion from the area.

In the 1980s fans came together to oppose the then Government’s attempt to introduce football ID cards – it was an outrageous idea. This has the look of football ID cards via the back door.

The FSF has sought the opinion of solicitors in relation to these arrangements and their advice, detailing what the police can and can’t do, is here. If you think the police may have acted unlawfully, get in touch.

The FSF would also be pleased to receive fans’ views on the policing operation at both fixtures.

Thanks to Action Images for the image used in this article.