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20 February 2015

Statement From The Chairman

"You have no doubt read or listened to reports regarding my discussions with Staffordshire Police and Matthew Ellis, the Police and Crime Commissioner of Staffordshire today.

With the game being played tomorrow I am both conscious and uncomfortable that there is the potential for an emotional reaction towards the police during the game.  That is not my wish.  The details of why, again in my view, the relationship between the Club and Staffordshire Police has deteriorated so quickly will no doubt be reported in the next week or so. I would, however, like to point out what I consider to be aspects for further discussion contained within the OPCC’s press release.

I will contest the accuracy of many areas of Matthew Ellis’ statement, particularly given his role in relation to policing in this area.  It was well reported that last year Leeds United went to Court (Leeds United V West Yorkshire Police) to challenge what they considered to be excessive charges levied against the Club.  This resulted in the Club receiving a substantial repayment reported to have been around £1,000,000.00.  Their case was based on the following extract from the Police Act 1996: “Pursuant to Section 25 of the Police Act 1996 the police cannot charge a private individual or entity for public order policing on the public highway or on land that is not owned, leased or controlled by that private individual or entity” or in plain terms, the footprint of the football stadium.  I am well aware of the responsibilities of Port Vale Football Club but feel there is confusion in some areas when the joint responsibilities of the police and the Club are combined.

The game tomorrow between Port Vale and Doncaster Rovers was originally categorised as a 1 and 7 police game, a category that the Club was and continues to be happy with.  However, late on Wednesday evening the police contacted the Club to advise that they had increased the match to a category B game following the receipt of some further intelligence which does not, in my view, warrant such an increase.  Under these circumstances there is a process to follow which involves the Safety Advisory Group within Stoke City Council to review the categorisation if both parties cannot agree.  I, by rejecting the police wish to upgrade the category of the game, triggered this process. I would point out that the actions of the officers of Stoke on Trent City Council were at all times carried out in a thoroughly professional manner.

I make no apologies for challenging the police and the whole process of policing at Port Vale Football Club. I am seeking advice from professionals to consider the timing and processes being dictated to the football club resulting in overcharging for police services.

There will be a video link to this statement and I look forward to an incident free and enjoyable match day experience for all attendees."

Norman Smurthwaite
Club Chairman

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