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Afternoon kick-off demand for 'bitter' Merseyside derby

TV-friendly 5.30pm start will spark booze-fuelled violence, police fear

Written by . Published on December 23rd 2014.

Afternoon kick-off demand for 'bitter' Merseyside derby

FEARS of trouble between Liverpool and Everton fans have put the city council on a collision course with the Football Association over the next Merseyside derby.

Liverpool city council is demanding the 5-30pm kick off for the Premiership clash at Goodison Park be moved back to early afternoon because of the "high risk factor" for trouble between the two sets of supporters.

The move follows a damning report from Merseyside Police which claims the so-called friendly derby has been replaced by an increasingly bitter rivalry.

The February 7 game is currenlty scheduled to start at 5-30pm to suit television broadcasters.


Now the city council, backed by Assistant Mayor Ann O’Byrne, wants the FA to switch the game to a kick-off not later than 1.30pm. And it says it will seek legal advice to force the issue if the FA refuses to listen.

Cllr O’Byrne said the issue surrounding the right of broadcasters to dictate kick off times is unacceptable.

Everton FC earlier this month submitted a report by the police to the FA.

The council’s Grounds Safety Advisory Group has been told by Merseyside Police that the proposed 5.30pm kick-off places the match in the highest risk factor for potential trouble.

In their lengthy report  the police charts the change in the ‘Merseyside Derby over recent years from what was once a match with friendly rivalry to a virtual battle, with the potential for trouble.

Everton-Liverpool-16.11.74-LNo longer the 'friendly
derby', say police
Says the report: “The Merseyside derby is one of the most significant fixtures in the football season. Historically it had the reputation of being a ‘friendly’ derby with healthy rivalry often dividing families as well as friendships.

“However the relationship between the two sets of supporters deteriorated throughout the 1990s to such an extent that this fixture became more of a problem for the police, clubs and local authority.”

The report adds the game now poses a high risk of disorder whether played at Goodison or Anfield and, since 2005, the game has had an early kick-off to mitigate the problems.

The police say there is no intelligence to indicate at this stage any planned organised disorder at the clash in February. Their main concern is the later kick-off could see drink-fuelled supporters heading to the ground, and later heading to the city centre where they will mix with people enjoying a Saturday night out.

Police say a number of issues are prevalent in the Merseyside derby including risk groups from each club gathering to engage in organised disorder before and after the match.

De-briefing of previous derby clashes have highlighted missile-throwing, targeted at players, rival supporters and police officers inside the stadium. There has also been offensive and racist chanting towards supporters and players.

Sky-Sports-Super-Sunday-1-610X343The right of broadcasters to dictate kick off times is unacceptable, says Assistant Mayor Ann O'Byrne

After the match, groups have migrated to the city centre and have engaged in disorder.

In their report, police say they fear an increase in organised and spontaneous disorder, and violent assaults on both sets of supporters fuelled by alcohol.

The fixture will require an extensive policing operation, with a significant increase in city centre policing after the match, they say.

Officers say they want an early afternoon kick-off because experience has shown that is the best way of controlling what has become a difficult match.

The council’s licensing chief, John Mc Hale says that no variations had so far been made on kick-off times because of the influence of television.

The city council’s licensing committee is today (Tuesday)  expected to back the police and its own Grounds’ Safety Group by writing to the FA to call for the kick off time to be switched to early afternoon.

“In the event of no change in the kick-off time being determined the city council will take legal advice on all appropriate actions to enforce the position” warns the report.

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousDecember 24th 2014.

Its self fuelling this kind of thing if you spend enough time publicly saying there will be trouble you egg certain types on. and get what you were worried about. the council would be better working with the media to promote the friendly derby and encourage supporters to be responsible. It could then work in private in a discrete way to encourage the kickoff time to be moved.

Green TambourineDecember 25th 2014.

Maybe if the pubs just sold orange juice. Or non-alcoholic DANDELION WINE!!!!!

mickeydrippin'December 26th 2014.

If the police insist that the fixture is brought forward to 15.00 kick-off, the Premier League will re-schedule another game to the 17.30 slot. Both Merseyside teams will then lose out on television fees from Sky.

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2015.

if they have to move it, they should swap it with whatever match is being played at a TV friendly time on the Sunday to avoid clubs missing out on TV fees. I have to say it's a while since I've been in town to watch it so I don't know how lairy it is. In Runcorn the pubs are always packed and there's loads of banter but never any grief.

1 Response: Reply To This...
mickeydrippin'January 12th 2015.

The Premier League have now said that the 5.30 kick off will NOT be changed. They are obviously bowing to SKY.

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