AIMS: Fair Cop? was established by the FSF's Northeast Division which gave supporters their chance to voice opinions on police and stewarding matters at their clubs’ derby matches.
BACKGROUND: The (now defunct) FSF Northeast Division, formed at the beginning of 2008, worked closely with North East football clubs as well as the police forces of Northumbria and Cleveland to discuss this issue and work together in a positive manner.
This process was formalised by developing Fair Cop? flyers and surveying supporters. The Sunderland v Middlesbrough match (September 20th, 2008) and Sunderland v Newcastle United match (October 25th, 2008) were the first two derbies to appear on the fixture list for the 2008/09 season and almost 10,000 flyers were given out by the Northeast Division’s volunteers.
These flyers were handed out to many home supporters entering the Stadium of Light and in the pubs and clubs in the centre of Sunderland. Away supporters received flyers via their clubs buses which took the majority of away fans to the match.
The flyers were well received by supporters and the clubs felt that the opportunity to give feedback was innovative and a positive action. After collating the responses we have sought to feed supporters’ comments on the policing and stewarding of these matches to Sunderland AFC and representatives from Northumbria Police.
Following disorder at the Sunderland v Newcastle United match Fair Cop? left the FSF’s Northeast Division in the unique position of having more than 10,000 words of constructive feedback on the day's events. This allowed the FSF Northeast to make a number of recommendations as there were clearly many issues where a broad consensus emerged between Newcastle and Sunderland supporters.
OUTCOMES: The FSF Northeast Division’s recommendations to address these issues were passed on to both Sunderland AFC and Northumbria Police. In addition, the report was shared with the Football Association, Football Licensing Authority and local Safety Advisory Group.
Well done to all involved who worked hard to make sure fans' voices were heard. If you are interested in running a similar scheme in your area, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll pass you on to the right people.