Hull City have released a club statement slamming the “draconian restrictions” placed upon their supporters by West Yorkshire Police for their upcoming match at Huddersfield Town on Saturday 30th March.
The police had initially enforced a “bubble match” on supporters before offering a “compromise”. Both options were heavily criticised by fans’ groups.
Fans of many clubs, including Huddersfield Town, have offered their support to the Tigers and the FSF will back any peaceful protests organised by supporters. Bubble matches are extremely unpopular with travelling fans and, while the FSF opposes their use, clubs aren’t always so forthcoming in speaking out against them.
However, on this occasion we’re delighted to see that Hull City have outlined their clear opposition to these unjust travel restrictions. To our eyes it’s one of the strongest pro-fan statements we’ve seen from a professional football club on these shores.
Credit to Hull City - their statement deserves to be printed in full:
“Hull City’s away game with Huddersfield Town on Saturday 30th March has been given the security categorisation of C+IR by West Yorkshire Police. This is the highest possible security categorisation, and, despite Hull City having no record of fan trouble or disorder, West Yorkshire Police have placed draconian restrictions on the freedom of our fans who wish to travel to the match in their usual way.
“Since the imposition of this unprecedented level of security categorisation, we have been endeavouring to remove, or at least reduce, the categorisation which places an unpalatable slur upon the club, its fans and its home city. During this process we have been in close consultation with the Football Supporters’ Federation, who represent football fans across the United Kingdom. The result of these efforts has been a loosening of the travel restrictions but there has been no amendment of the security categorisation.
“As a consequence Hull City has, as a club, been left to reflect upon both the feelings of its own supporters and the implications for away fans in general. We have compared the policies of forces such as West Midlands Police with West Yorkshire Police, who operate under the same national ACPO and FA guidelines, yet apply them in diametrically opposing manners.
“In listening to fans we recognise, and empathise with, the deep sense of grievance over West Yorkshire Police’s effective criminalisation of Hull City supporters. Therefore whilst reluctantly accepting the increase in ticket allocation and slight reduction in travel restrictions as the most practical solution for fans wishing to attend the match, we have also decided to support a protest march organised by the Football Supporters’ Federation, aimed at highlighting the treatment of away football fans.
“The march from Huddersfield Town Centre to Huddersfield Town’s John Smith’s Stadium is planned to begin at 2:30pm, arriving at the stadium at 3:00pm at which time the march banner will be handed over to Hull City supporters attending the match. The banner will then be displayed across the empty seats in the away end.
“In taking this twin-track approach Hull City is addressing the broad range of opinion amongst its fans, which allows for a freedom of choice to protest WYP’s security categorisation through the march, a boycott or match attendance.
“The key message that both the Football Supporters’ Federation and Hull City are seeking to highlight is that football is a spectator sport that is made complete by the presence of fans, home and away, with singing, banter, rivalry and a little rough humour; all of which combines with the match itself to create the heady cocktail of atmosphere that gives fans a great day out. Without fans, football stands at risk of becoming a dry, sterile affair lacking such emotion and passion that supporters so enthusiastically provide.
“At the same time Hull City announces the formation of its Fans’ Liaison & Advisory Group (FLAG), which will engage with fans to bring added life and spectacle to the KC Stadium on match days and allow fans a presence and voice in shaping the match day experience. FLAG’s first meeting took place on Friday 15th March and will convene on a regular basis.”
Thanks to Action Images for the image used in this article.