Football police chief calls for Premier League talks to tackle disorder

Aston Villa's Matty Cash and Lucas Digne react after being struck by bottles at Everton

Aston Villa's Matty Cash and Lucas Digne react after being struck by bottles at Everton Creator: Lindsey Parnaby

Britain's head of football policing has called for an urgent meeting with Premier League chiefs over rising incidents of crowd disorder.

Figures recently released by the UK Football Policing Unit showed a 36 percent rise in fan-related trouble in the first half of this season compared with the same period in the 2019/20 campaign.

There were further incidents last weekend, with Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger facing a barrage of missiles from Tottenham fans at Stamford Bridge, while Aston Villa pair Lucas Digne and Matty Cash were struck by bottles thrown by Everton supporters.

Chief Constable Mark Roberts, football policing lead for the National Police Chiefs Council, wants a unified response to the growing problems and is keen to speak to the Premier League immediately.

"I have written to the Premier League asking for an urgent meeting but am yet to have a response," Roberts told AFP on Thursday.

"This will take a joined-up response from clubs, the league, government, fans and the police.

"It would be wrong to say we are back where we were (in previous decades) but it is certainly a deteriorating picture and coordinated action is required if it isn't to slip further backwards."

It is understood the Premier League will raise the subject of disorder at a separate match-scheduling meeting on Friday.

The UK Football Policing Unit said there were 759 reported incidents of disorder in the first half of this season.

That compares with 560 in the first half of the 2019/20 season before the coronavirus pandemic took hold and fans were locked out of stadiums for more than a year.

Stadiums in England have resumed operating without capacity limits this season due to the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

There have been 802 football-related arrests in the first half of the season, compared with 547 in 2019/20.

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