Pompey v Saints 'bubble' - analysis begins
And so the first South Coast 'bubble' passed apparently without incident and the massive police operation was successful in keeping opposing idiots apart and protecting the public at large.
So now the analysis begins and hopefully the fans, the general public, local businesses, the police and the clubs themselves, can reflect and decide whether it was all worth it.
Leaving aside the issue of human rights for the moment, let's try to cover the other aspects.
The police should congratulate themselves on their organisation. Aside from a couple of minor blips that did not affect the outcome, reportedly everything went smoothly. There was some chaos at the pick up point at the Bursledon Park and Ride as lack of signage meant that many fans drove into the massive Tesco car boot sale rather than the adjacent field where the buses were - an easy lesson to learn.
Although the Southampton Daily Echo reports there were people on motorway bridges jeering the convoy as it passed beneath, I drove down the M27 approximately half an hour before the buses and there was a police presence on every bridge bar one and I was assured that that was soon rectified.
The general public should not have been inconvenienced in any way except by the road closures that may have caused some congestion around the end of the Eastern Road, Priory Crescent and Milton Road.
We have already though heard from local businesses whose trade was unfortunately affected.
The police, we presume, must have been happy with the result (including the one on the pitch). Their plans seemed to run with clockwork precision.
As for the clubs, it would be interesting to know if Southampton made a profit from charging £12 to travel on their transport (tickets were given out on the buses so there was no alternative). Inside of the stadium, neither home nor away sections were sold out.
Whether or not the 'bubble' and the negativity surrounding it had an effect is hard to tell.
This only leaves the infringement of human rights to discuss. The Football Supporters' Federation will continue to suggest that forcing these draconian methods on fans continues the stereotyping of football fans that many of us have fought for years to overcome. We believe that supporters should be seen as part of the solution and not the problem. Indeed we would have preferred to see an attempt to analyse the cause and effect of the problems of previous years in an effort to bring about improvements that might have prevented any need for thoughts of 'bubbles'.
The promise of Supt Burrows to talk to fans representatives before arrangements for the return fixture are finalised is to be welcomed. The Pompey Supporters' Trust and the FSF will be represented. A full report of this first 'bubble' will be presented and we need your views. Whether you were affected on Sunday or you have your own ideas about April 7th, we are interested. Will it set a precedent that sees any future games that are considered 'high risk', either home or away be forced into a 'bubble'? Is it a bad thing if it does?
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Written by Ken Malley.
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