‘No po­lice at games is the way for­ward’

Chief back­ing big pull-out

Evening Express (Extra Edition) - - SPORTS - By Ross McTav­ish

A TOP city cop be­lieves the Dons could soon play some games with no po­lice pres­ence in­side their ground.

The is­sue of fan be­hav­iour is firmly in the spot­light given un­savoury in­ci­dents in­volv­ing the Old Firm this sea­son.

Les Gray, head of the Scot­tish Po­lice Fed­er­a­tion, went so far as sug­gest­ing clashes be­tween Rangers and Celtic should be played be­hind closed doors.

How­ever, the match com­man­der at a large num­ber of Aberdeen’s home games is pleased with the way sup­port­ers gen­er­ally con­duct them­selves at Pit­to­drie.

By the time the Dons move to their new com­mu­nity sta­dium at Loirston, planned for 2013, chief su­per­in­ten­dent Adrian Wat­son reck­ons there may be no need for po­lice to at­tend lower cat­e­gory fix­tures.

He said: “We are try­ing to move away from foot­ball and get far more com­mu­nity fo­cused, which is not nec­es­sar­ily about be­ing at Pit­to­drie in huge num­bers.

“What the folk out there are telling us is that they want us in their com­mu­ni­ties deal­ing with the is­sues that re­ally mat­ter.

“What we are try­ing to do is move away to an ex­tent, where some of the lower cat­e­gory games will al­most be po­lice free.

“That’s the way we want to go for­ward, par­tic­u­larly with the new sta­dium.

“For a match such as Aberdeen against Hibs, right now, we could have an in­spec­tor, a sergeant and maybe a dozen cops.

“I have looked south of the bor­der, where they have some games where there are more than 20,000 fans and no cops at the ground. Why wouldn’t we get to that here?”

So if there are no po­lice con­sta­bles in­side the sta­dium, who would be re­spon­si­ble for keep­ing the fans in check?

C h i e f S u p t Wa t s o n s a i d : “Stew­ards. As we come out, they up their game so we can be as­sured there is safety to suit ev­ery­one.”

Part of his role sees Chief Supt Wat­son work closely with the Dons, while also get­ting in­volved with na­tional is­sues in­volv­ing the game.

He is a mem­ber of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Chief Po­lice Of­fi­cers in Scot­land foot­ball sub-com­mit­tee.

That in­volves deal­ing with var­i­ous sub­jects, from sec­tar­i­an­ism, to the prospect of play­ing games on Fri­day nights.

He said: “Coven­try have a sta­dium very much what the Aberdeen Arena may look like.

“I was there try­ing to get a sense of safety within the ground.

“On that day they had no po­lice of­fi­cers in the sta­dium for a game against Scun­thorpe with 16,000 folk there. “That’s where we want to get to.” How­ever, Grampian Po­lice Chief Supt Wat­son ad­mits host­ing Old Firm matches at Pit­to­drie of­fers other chal­lenges to deal with, such

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