This resulted in an accusatory statement from Humberside Police focusing mainly on the arrest of three Hull City fans and threatening that “The disorder witnessed last night will be taken into account as the return leg approaches and we will police the match accordingly”.
The statement did not take into account the particular circumstance surrounding a frightening, but isolated, incident. Hull City fans found the vast majority of Lokeren fans to be hospitable and friendly and insist that the incident did not detract from the otherwise excellent experience.
The level of policing for football matches is set by a Safety Advisory Group (SAG). Every club has such a group which is made up of representatives of the club, the stadium, the council and the police. It is the feeling of CTWD that there should be fan representation on Hull City’s SAG – as other clubs have. This would allow the concerns of fans to be expressed during the consultation on each game and ensure informed input on matters such as segregation, stewarding and the amount of police present in and around the stadium.
In the meantime, we would therefore ask that the innocent Lokeren fans who will be travelling to the city for the return game are welcomed with the same level of hospitality as Hull City fans enjoyed in Belgium. The mistakes made by the Belgian police should not be repeated by our local force and Lokeren fans should not have their experience of football in this country soured by heavy-handed policing.
Any Hull City fans who have concerns over their treatment by police or stewards at any football match can contact the Football Supporters’ Federation through their website www.fsf.org.uk/