Imps chief executive Liam Scully has responded to comments made by chief constable Mark Roberts which have done the rounds today.
Roberts, who worryingly is Britain’s top football police officer, once claimed that fans who stand are more likely to take class-A drugs, and today he’s doubled down on his belief football fans should sit, this time commenting on people getting soaked in beer.
“People would still drink to excess outside, but then arrive and carry on drinking. And so you’d afford them 90 minutes extra time to drink. And more alcohol causes more problems,” he told the Guardian. “You’d have that many problems, they’d have to pay for more police in stadiums to deal with the issues. You then have the issues of people throwing beer in the air, which you see all the time at Boxpark and the like. So if you’re there with the family, and every time a goal goes you get a lager shampoo, it doesn’t make it conducive to going.”
Liam has rebuked that claim, suggesting it is nothing but an attack to unduly influence policymakers with regards to safe standing at football matches.“We disagree with Mark in the strongest possible terms and do not see any correlation between supporters who stand and the behaviours suggested by chief constable Roberts.
“It is absurd to directly link standing at football to taking Class A drugs such as cocaine or to chanting something offensive,” he said. “There is gathering momentum amongst the policymakers and clubs to reintroduce standing at football. Here at Lincoln City, we passionately believe that football supporters who wish to stand to watch the game should be given a safe and legal opportunity to do so.”
“We see this unqualified statement by Mark Roberts as an attack to unduly influence the policymakers without any substantive evidence and it risks creating a dangerous narrative.
“Despite this, we remain encouraged by the successful rail seating pilots across Europe and here in the UK which are consistently providing an evidence base to prove that it is safe to stand while watching football.”
It has been suggested the Stacey West development could include rail seating, which would allow supporters to stand safely in the ground. Safe standing has been implemented at several major clubs, including Manchester United, and is prevalent on the continent, as I found out this weekend. Shockingly, when Dusseldorf scored, there was no beer shower, nor did I experience any widespread cocaine use amongst supporters.
It is dangerous that the country’s top police officer seemingly has no real grasp of football culture, fans or the problems he needs to combat. His comments today, and those he’s made in the past, criminalise a large section of people based on the behaviours of a minority.