Why it is important to follow the instructions from stewards
Over the last few years we have saved the club a huge amount of money by having police free games.
This is money we have been able to spend on other things, most notably the playing squad. We have achieved this through good management of the stewarding plan, safety controls and training the stewards to an NVQ2 and 3 standard.
However, Police Liaison Officers regularly attend games to asses crowd dynamics and keep an awareness of how football behaviour integrates with the behaviour of the comnmunity as a whole. If they observe continuing disregard for the ground regulations and the law in general, it increases the risk for disorder at or caused by the match. This will then lead directly to the categorisation of the game and the need for police to return and that will of course come at a cost. This is a very real risk.
Police Liaison Officers don’t just look for fighting/disorder. To give you an example, the safety certificate of our stadium says all spectators must be seated. Whether you, the club, the stewards or anyone else agrees with that rule it doesn’t matter.
If people persistently stand, and if we don’t try and do anything about it, the Police Liaison Officers will report it, the police will be back, and we will lose a huge chunk of money, money that we think could be better spent on the playing squad.
So the stewards are not killjoys, they are attempting to enforce the stadium rules to the best of their ability for the benefit of all supporters.
The safety team is also constantly assessed by other bodies from the Fire Officer to Building Inspectors and these findings are fed back to a Governing group. The police form one element of this group and therefore receive information from other assessments too.
It is not just standing that is an issue. Foul and abusive language, aggressive and/or drunken behaviour, making gestures to visiting supporters and more are all issues that we have to make sure do not happen.
We don't just check for rule breaking via any one method. We use CCTV, plain clothes stewards who act undercover and more. Just because you don't see the stewards move in to a group to apprehend a supporter who has been breaking the rules doesn't mean action is not being taken. If the stewards feel an ejection is necessary, the situation will be watched and observed and action taken at a safe and suitable time for all parties.
Depending on the severity or the scale of an incident stewards don’t always act the moment an ‘offence’ takes place as it not always practical to do so, but they will act when they believe the incident can be dealt with, with a minimum of disruption to the supporter concerned, themselves and other supporters.
The stadium rules apply to all areas of the stadium, including the away supporters. The stewards will deal with the away supporters with the same guidelines as home supporters but you need to bear in mind away supporters visit Sixfields, at most, once a year. Home supporters are here around 30 times a year and not only do we need Cobblers fans to be educated about the importance of following the rules, but we need Cobblers fans to understand they are helping the club by adhering to the rules.
We want and need passionate vocal support, of course we do. We do our best to encourage that, but that passionate support must stay within the rules and regulations that apply to the stadium. In the same way we want the players to show passion within the rules we also want the same from the supporters.
If any small percentage of supporters can't or won't follow the rules then the club and therefore the entire supporter base will suffer with money spent on police bills which means less money able to be spent on the first team squad.
Our ground regulations can be viewed at www.ntfc.co.uk/tickets/ground_regulations.aspx
Please support the stewards in their work to keep everyone safe while maximising the amount of money we have to spend on the playing squad.
Thank you for your support and your co-operation.
You can follow Nick Price, our Football Liaison Officer on Twitter at @NorpolFootball