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Cops don Gunners scarves to nab ticket touts

Match-day undercover operation launched amid concerns about fan violence

08 December, 2017 — By Emily Finch

Illegal ticket sales are blamed for a rise in disorder

“TICKETS! Buying or selling”, a familiar cry which may no longer be heard outside Emirates Stadium following a crackdown on ticket touts by Arsenal football club and police.

Dozens of undercover police officers draped in Arsenal scarves gathered at Holloway Police Station on Saturday afternoon, ahead of the Manchester United match

The reselling of general tickets outside stadiums may seem harmless but has been illegal since 1994. Police blame the underground trade for recent anti-social behaviour at matches.

“We’ve had significant issues with disorder recently. After the Köln game there have been more and more problems with away fans coming into stadiums. We are being proactive with the help of Arsenal football club,” said match commander Inspector Steve Murfin.

In September, an estimated 20,000 Köln fans travelled from Germany, having been allocated only 3,000 seats for the Europa League match against Arsenal. Although the majority of fans were well-behaved, a large number sat in the home seats, causing havoc for stewards. There were reports of fighting.

The cost of policing the match topped £120,000, according to figures released by City Hall.

Inspector Murfin said two Islington police officers were attacked by Köln fans, with one suffering a broken ankle and another a broken cheekbone. Both are now back on active duty.

Just 40 minutes into Saturday’s operation – which has yet to be named – eight dispersal orders were handed out to touts, barring them from returning to the stadium until after the match.

“There’s just so many of them,” said one female undercover special constable after being approached by three touts in quick succession.

After a couple of dispersal orders, news quickly spread among ticket sellers that the police were in their midst, forcing many to leave the area.

Police will next month interview the eight touts given dispersal orders. If sent to court, they could receive a hefty fine or a banning order. Orders may see touts having to report to a police station during a game. Police also confiscated four paper tickets and eight season tickets.

Acting sergeant Jimmy Wood, who helped spearhead Saturday’s operation, described it as a “success”.

“Hopefully, they’ll think twice about doing it so brazenly in front of everyone,” said Sgt Wood.

Similar operations are planned for the new year.

Arsenal football club also announced this week that it had suspended 200 season tickets in its own crackdown on the illegal reselling of tickets.

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