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Chief Constable Urges Premier League to Contribute More to Match Day Policing Costs

One of the UK’s top police officers, Stephen Watson, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, has called for Premier League football clubs to contribute more towards the cost of match-day policing. Speaking to LBC, Chief Constable Watson revealed that policing match days cost the force around £28 million per year, significantly more than what is recouped from the clubs.

Watson highlighted a significant “question mark” over whether such expenditure levels are “entirely appropriate”. He emphasized the close working relationship between Greater Manchester Police and Premier League clubs, describing their collaboration as highly professional. However, he noted a persistent debate over the charging mechanisms that currently allow police to recover only the costs incurred within the stadium’s footprint, excluding expenses for policing in the city center or transport infrastructure before and after matches.

“There’s always a debate about the charging mechanisms whereby policing can recover the full cost of policing,” Watson explained. “The current legal position is that police can only claim from clubs that which happens within the footprint of the ground, so it doesn’t, for example, cover the cost of police in the city center before and after a match or on transport infrastructure.”

The Chief Constable pointed out that there is a “balance” to be struck between police forces and Premier League clubs. He argued that at present, policing “expends rather too much” on football-related activities compared to the contributions from the clubs. “So, there was always a bit of tension in the sense that policing expends more on the policing of football than football is able to contribute back into policing,” he added.

Former Met Commissioner, Lord Hogan-Howe, echoed Watson’s sentiments, suggesting that Premier League clubs should cover the costs of policing beyond the stadiums. “I would target the Premiership,” he told LBC. “The Premiership pays £100 million for a player; they have the money available. It’s the rest of us that are picking up the bill.”

Watson reiterated the financial imbalance, stating, “Policing probably expends about £28 million per annum more than it can recover from Premier League clubs and question-mark whether that is entirely appropriate. I happen to think that the balance is somewhere closer to fuller cost recovery.”

Reflecting on his three years as Chief Constable in Manchester, Watson shared his achievements, including bringing the force out of special measures. He highlighted a ‘back to basics approach’ focused on fighting crime, protecting victims, and keeping communities safe. “We have recruited more officers than GMP has had in a decade,” he noted, detailing investments in uniforms, body-worn cameras, new vehicles, and restructured neighborhood teams.

Chief Constable Watson’s remarks underline the ongoing debate over funding responsibilities for match-day policing, calling for a reassessment to ensure a fairer distribution of costs between police forces and Premier League clubs.

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