Police Boost Security For Crewe Cardiff Clash

Last updated : 01 May 2003 By Michael Morris
A Major policing strategy is in place to prevent violent clashes between rival fans at Crewe Alexandra's last match of the season against Cardiff City. The huge police presence planned ahead of Saturday's Gresty Road fixture has not been scaled down despite Crewe having already been promoted to Division One.

The sell-out game would have been pivotal in deciding which of the two teams gains promotion if Crewe had not drawn against Queens Park Rangers last weekend and the Welsh outfit beaten champions Wigan.

There is expected to be a carnival atmosphere in the stadium as the match signals the end of the normal league season. Cardiff can now only win promotion through the play-offs.

Although senior officers have not revealed whether they have received intelligence pointing to planned trouble, they believe the ticket-only fixture, which kicks off at 3pm, has the potential for disorder.

Around 1,600 Cardiff supporters have bought tickets for the match and are expected to descend on the town early in the afternoon. The club's following has a history of hooliganism and police are bracing themselves for flare-ups.

Extra officers have been drafted in to deal with a capacity crowd of 10,000 and mounted officers will be brought in from South Yorkshire Police Force. Officers are expected to be wearing riot gear and dog handlers will also be used.

The majority will be stationed in the town centre, around the stadium, railway station and at strategic points on main routes into the area.

Superintendent Mary Roberts, of Crewe Police Division, said: "We have not scaled down our security operation for this match.

"It will see unprecedented high levels of policing. The purpose of this is to deter fans without tickets from attending as they have been advised and to contain any disorder which may occur."

Cheshire police are working closely with British Transport Police, who will be on the lookout for trouble from both home and away supporters travelling into Crewe Railway Station. And close links with Cardiff police will ensure known hooligans are quickly identified and dealt with on the day.

Inspector Jeff Crewe, of Crewe Police Division, urged those without tickets to stay away from the stadium.

He said: "My aim is to ensure that supporters of either team who arrive with their tickets to enjoy an afternoon's sporting entertainment, do not have their enjoyment marred by the behaviour of a minority who set out only to disrupt.

"Any such behaviour will be dealt with very firmly by officers policing the match. If you do not have a ticket please do not travel to the match and you will not be disappointed."

Cardiff fans were involved in some of the worst outbreaks of football violence at the Britannia Stadium in April 2000 when the Welsh side played Stoke City.

Almost 150 fans from both clubs were arrested as part of a 10-month police operation into the violence.