Running a thriving and successful football club is a challenge, both physically and financially. But today, the management of Championship side Leeds United has stated that their local Police force, West Yorkshire Police, owes them around £800,000 in overpayments made by the club to the force for services rendered at home games between 2009 and 2012.
This news comes on the back of the local force losing a case in the courts and already paying back £1.2 million to the club for said payments being made. If true, these figures are huge and show yet more of the pressures that are faced by a club fighting to survive in the Championship and the lower leagues as well as those that exist on the pitch. The figures themselves have come to light in the latest stage of the dispute between club and force.
The force have stated that it will work towards a satisfactory conclusion to this dispute, "if anything," remains outstanding,” which usually means we will drag things out in the courts until we can see something good come out of it in our favour. But the fact is that two years ago, the High Court agreed that these charges had been levied wrongly, so Leeds are fighting not just for their own money to be repaid but for the right of any corporate business to claim back payments sent wrongly.
The argument rests on who is responsible for Policing streets and car parks around the club but what this is showing is that such staffing is in no way straightforward. The Assistant Chief Constable for the force, Mark Milsom, said: "West Yorkshire Police has already repaid the club £1,238,816 following the original judgement.” He then went on to add that “the ruling today makes clear that the force and the club should now work together to agree what, if anything, remains outstanding.
And whilst this is certainly the case, that all concerned should get together and fix this problem, it begs questions on a bigger scale. How many clubs around the country suffer from the same problem? How many of the clubs in the lower leagues are suffering because of these methods of overcharging? And why in this day and age, should a football club be subject to such abuse at the hands of those who should know better?
Perhaps there should be a body set up to police the Policing for events such as this? Perhaps there should be set fees for all clubs that are achievable? The normal working man and his family pay good money to go and see a football match and trust that those responsible for ensuring public safety are doing their jobs right across every avenue.