IS THIS REALLY HOW WE SHOULD BE SPENDING OUR MONEY?
Wednesday Aug 29, 2012
REPORT BY ATFC HEALTH & SAFETY DIRECTOR JOHN GLASBY
In an effort to spread the workload more evenly within the club, the chairman recently asked me to take responsibility for Health & Safety issues which obviously includes match day safety and policing.
What an eye-opener!
How many Supporters are aware that our Stewarding & Policing bill for the 2012-13 (Conference matches only) season will be approximately £22,000?
To put this figure into perspective, it is far higher than all the monies raised by our volunteers,members of
the Supporters Association,50/50 club and any other fund raising activities.
It is money we cannot spend on improving facilities, improving the team or maintaining low admission prices. It is, in facta drain on our resources.
Why is the figure so high ? You may well ask. It is solely due to the behaviour of supporters both home and away and the influence that they have on the people making decisions about the safety of spectators at forthcoming matches.
In conjunction with the police we have to assess each match as to it's potential for "trouble" because of crowd size, history of trouble between the clubs and police intelligence.
The games are then graded from CS (Club Stewards only -non-segregated) through A,B,C to C-IR with the cost increasing accordingly.
Thanks to our Safety Officer, Nigel Flint and his loyal band of volunteer stewards we are able to run our CS games at almost no cost and at the moment we have nine of these planned for this season.
All other games will be segregated. Why, many people have asked ?
It allows us, with police permission, to downgrade some of the matches and each down-grading step has the potential to save money.
The approximate costs for each grading are as follows : CS - £100 A- £250 B- £1500 C- £3000 C-IR - £5500
and it doesn't take a genius to work out that we do not need many C-IR matches ( two are planned for
this season though!).
At least with the C-IR matches the potential gate may be large enough to help to mitigate the high costs involved.
The more difficult decisions are for the matches in the B/C categories and a good example of this was the recent match against Nuneaton Town.
This was ranked as a C - Police and club intelligence indicated an away support of 250 which would normally have been
an A rating - however because of some "history" between the two sets of supporters, the police insisted
on a C category.
In the event only 118 turned up, there was no trouble and we spent £3000, with hindsight unwisely.
However, if we hadn't taken any precautions and there would have been any trouble then we may have been landed with a bill for £20-30,000?
Our own supporters' behaviour matters - both home and away. All incidents are reported back to the Police at all grounds and this is all compiled in Police intelligence reports which then influences our decisions.
You may have noticed that we have two Badged Stewards now at all games on the entrance to the bars (additional cost) - why ? Because last season there was evidence of drug-taking, by our supporters, and in order to keep our bar-licence, the police have insisted on more control - talk about shooting yourself in the foot!
There has been constant criticism on the forum about increased admission charges. At the same time we are asked to improve the team, improve the facilities and to cover the cost of stewarding and policing.
How is this to be done with a core home support of 5-600? Our gates only averaged 1000 last season because of away supporters from Mansfield, Grimsby,Luton and such like and the behaviour of some of our supporters, particularly at the Grimsby match has had a considerable influence on the planning for this season.
The total number of spectators for all the league matches this season will be 25-30,000 which equates to £1 per head per game for each supporter to cover stewarding and policing costs alone.
For those of you who come to every game please bear in mind that you are paying approximately £23 each per season for crowd control - wouldn't you rather that money be spent on the team or on facilities ?
Help us to reduce those costs by your behaviour or the behaviour of others. Don't cause trouble with away supporters or constantly abuse match officials. If you want to report consistently bad behaviour but are afraid to do so, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org where it will be treated in confidence.
We have to cover all these costs and pay our way - we don't want to be in the situation faced by Darlington or Kettering last season and I find it unacceptable that we are asked to spend more money in this area than our loyal fund-raisers can raise in a season through all their hard work - is that not daft or what?