Pompey Game Will Not Be A Bubble
Friday, 6th Sep 2019 08:08
According to the latest reports Hampshire Police have confirmed that the forthcoming game at Fratton park will not be a bubble game, but is this the correct decision ?
HAMPSHIRE Police will not deploy the controversial 'bubble' when Saints travel Portsmouth in the Carabao Cup.
The policing method was controversially used when the two clubs last met at Fratton Park in December 2011.
It saw Saints fans taken to Portsmouth in designated coaches, dropped into a 'sterile area' and then escorted to Fratton Park prior to kick-off - and on the way home.
Although some fans complained it saw the first trouble free fixture between the two clubs at Fratton Park since Boxing Day 1974.
In a statement, released on Thursday a spokesperson for Hampshire Police said:
"We know what this match means to both sets of fans and we are working closely with both clubs to help make sure that the fans are able to enjoy this much-anticipated cup tie"
"We have to make sure our policing response is proportionate, able to deal swiftly with anyone looking to cause trouble and, at the same time, not disrupt the lives of those who are not going to watch the match.
"Having met with both clubs and shared our initial plans with them, we are now in a position to confirm that our policing operation will not mirror what was done in 2012 when the clubs last met.
"Our priority, as always, is public safety and we are confident that we have a wide range of different tactics available to us to best tackle any disruption by those who are intent on causing disorder.
"We also feel that these tactics need to suit the timing of a match that will be taking place on a Tuesday evening.
"As with any policing operation of this nature, there will be some elements that people will not be able to see but as our plans progress, we will be able to share more details of our more visible tactics."
I am sure that the Police do have plenty of experience policing Saints games, but the reality is that in the last 50 years few fixtures between the two sides have been played without trouble of some sort, even friendly fixtures were stopped due to the issues that always surrounded them.
That has meant that no competitive Saints game at Fratton Park has been without major public disorder since perhaps Boxing Day 1974, the only exception has been the last bubble trip 8 years ago when for the first time with both fans kept isolated from each other it passed without incident.
So the police experience should tell them that their only tactic that has worked in nearly half a century of violence has been the bubble.
Most Saints fans will travel on the train now and on the past two occasions this has happened 2004 & 2005 despite heavy police numbers they were unable to get Saints supporters to the ground in time due to Pompey fans blocking the road meaning we missed the kick off both times.
After the game the police struggled to clear the streets despite Pompey wins and major damage was caused to nearby property.
So my worry is that this will be repeated now in the cup tie, given the time it took the police to clear the streets it could be gone 11pm before they can let Saints supporters out of the ground, another hour to get them to the station and then an hours train journey to Southampton.
The bubble trip may be controversial and unpopular with some, but the reality is that it is the only police tactic that has worked and not only prevented violence but kept both sets of supporters apart and safe, I am not sure what they can do different this time than they have done in the past and we therefore face major disruption kettled in by police officers brought in from other forces and under fire from missiles.
Whilst for some this is all part of the fun of a derby game, for many supporters including families it is something frightening.
Having attended every game at Fratton since 1976, I can speak from experience.
Photo: Action Images
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