Town Hall leader slams football cops after Arsenal match chaos
Cllr Richard Watts calls for meeting with the Met after around 20,000 visiting German fans poured onto Highbury Fields
22 September, 2017 — By Koos Couvée
FC Köln fans at Highbury Fields last week
TOWN Hall chief Richard Watts has criticised the Met for failing to anticipate the number of FC Köln fans who travelled to Islington last week for the Europa League clash with Arsenal, causing chaos in and around the Emirates Stadium.
Some 20,000 fans poured onto Highbury Fields last Thursday afternoon, and while many passers-by remarked that the German visitors brought a positive atmosphere, nearby residents complained of drunk fans urinating everywhere and leaving bottles and cans strewn around the green.
Köln only had an allocation of 3,000 tickets for the game, and the area around the stadium became difficult for the police to manage. The game got underway an hour later than planned. There were claims that hundreds of supporters of the German team had crammed into home seats having purchased tickets from touts.
While stressing the vast majority of the German fans were good-natured, Councillor Watts warned that Scotland Yard’s football squad should learn the lessons.
“We’ve called for a meeting with police and council to have a lessons learnt exercise,” said Cllr Watts. “If you are going to get this number of travelling fans we need much earlier notice and it’s up to the police to do that work, to have some idea of the number of fans travelling.
“There were reports in the German press that there was big travelling support so it didn’t take a genius to work it out.”
Köln have apologised to Arsenal for Emirates “disturbers” but took issue with policing, saying in a statement: “The organisers were unfortunately not adequately prepared for the task. In our view, the security concept and communication seemed inadequate and the police force too small.”
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The Met’s Central Football Unit make every effort to gather intelligence and share it with partner agencies, with regards to football matches in London, to secure the safety and security of everyone attending, and put in place a proportionate policing response based on the information available to us.
“The Met will work closely with partner agencies, security at Arsenal and UEFA, to establish how away fans were able to access the Arsenal seating.”