Thursday, 11 August 2011

Thugs 1 Fans 0

So the thugs have won.
My initial reaction to Gloucestershire Police's decision to withdraw their resources from Saturday's game with Swindon is that it is a complete joke.
Yes, that may be knee-jerk, but when you look around the country and see other police forces able to help other forces stretched by the actions of the sub-human in our society yet not have to call off games, it is very annoying indeed.
There has been trouble in Nottingham this week, yet the Forest-County Carling Cup game went ahead on Tuesday night with 20,000 in the ground. Never even a hint of that game being called off. Same goes for Leeds v Bradford in midweek.
Yet in Bristol, where there had also been trouble, City and Rovers' games went by the wayside, as Avon and Somerset Police were unable to police it.
On Saturday, Portsmouth play Brighton at Fratton Park, going ahead, no problem. Birmingham v Coventry at St Andrews, going ahead, no problem.
Tottenham v Everton is the ONLY other game that has been called off. Understandable as that was the seat of this outbreak of criminality and probably the scene of the only legitimate public anger.
The High Road has been closed most of the week so there is no complaints from me on that one - same for the London Carling Cup games that were off in the week as the situation remained volatile.
But the Premier League and Football League games are on in London tomorrow. They are on in Birmingham over the weekend, and Manchester, and Liverpool. All places where disorder has been far greater than here.
Where is the consistency? It all smacks of double standards and almost of our police force looking for an excuse.
Almost a case of 'It's only football'. If it had been a race day, would that have been called off? I doubt it. Gloucester rugby would still have played as well.
There is trouble in Cheltenham town centre every Friday and Saturday night. So are all the pubs and clubs closing this weekend? No? Thought not.
We had a few windows put through in Barton Street and the old Gloscat building set on fire. Bad yes, but hardly Beirut is it?
We should be sending a message out to these scumbags that they will not win, but this sends the other message. Things need to get back to normal.
It suggests to me that our police force are being sent elsewhere in the country so other areas are protected - and so other football clubs who don't need the money as much as we do can get their games played.
It makes our police force look like a laughing stock - and leaves the football club with a massive financial shortfall.
Swindon had sold more than 1,500 tickets - add that to maybe 2,500-3,000 of our fans, and we were looking at a 4,000-plus crowd.
Add to that bar, food and programme takings, sales of the new shirt, hospitality and sponsorships sold and other things - our club loses out and I expect (and I hope) that Paul Baker is absolutely spitting.
Are the police force going to compensate us for this loss of vital revenue? Are they going to discount this off their over-inflated policing bill? Of course they are not.
The game will now be played on a Tuesday night, when the crowd will probably be 800 or so down on what it would have been this weekend, probably competing with Champions League football, so that will also rule out the armchair Man U fans from coming.
Less gate money, less bar takings, less hospitality, less everything. It was a premium game, so you can probably take something like £10,000 off what we might have been expecting to make when everything is considered. We can't afford to lose that sort of money.
I know some will say 'it's just a football match, look at all the devastation' and I see that point.
But if games in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Nottingham can go ahead - big cities where there has been real devastation this week can go ahead, then why can't a game in 'sleepy' Gloucestershire??