Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain

max temp: 9°C

min temp: 1°C

Search

NF clash fear for Blues game

PUBLISHED: 13:33 15 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:26 03 March 2010

THOUSANDS of Ipswich Town fans were today warned that they could find themselves in the middle of race clashes on Saturday when the team takes on Sunderland in the Suffolk club's opening match of the new Premiership season.

THOUSANDS of Ipswich Town fans were today warned that they could find themselves in the middle of race clashes on Saturday when the team takes on Sunderland in the Suffolk club's opening match of the new Premiership season.

The National Front is planning to march from the railway station in the heart of the city to Seaburn past Sunderland's ground the Stadium of Light.

They aim to protest about the arrival of asylum seekers in the area and the march is scheduled to start at 1pm along a route passing near the football ground.

However the Anti Nazi League has vowed to stage a counter-demonstration and this has prompted the Northumbria Police to ask Home Secretary David Blunkett to ban the NF march.

The decision is still awaited from the Home Office, but officials in the north east are confident it will be banned.

Mr Blunkett has already used his powers to ban the NF from marching elsewhere and he will not want potentially violent protesters arriving at the same time as tens of thousands of football fans.

The NF has vowed to defy any ban – and has said if it is prevented from marching through the city it will leaflet fans on their way to the match.

The ANL said it will counter whatever the NF does.

Officials from Ipswich Town have met police officers to discuss arrangements for the match. The club expects about 2,100 fans to make the long trip to the north east.

Alesham Gooderham, the club's director of communications, said: "We are taking advice about the situation there and we shall advise our supporters in line with that.

"If things look too serious I suppose we will have to consider refunds if people pull out. The safety of our supporters is of paramount importance."

Supporters' club chairman Philip Houseley said he would be concerned because many families were planning to make Saturday's match a big day out at the start of the season.

"I'm sure our fans would want nothing to do with this – but those who travel by car or train need to be aware of the potential problem," he said.

Fans on official coaches should be safe because they can use a special relief road at the Stadium of Light to deliver supporters direct to the turnstiles.

NF national activities organiser Terry Blackham said: "We are still coming regardless of the ban.

"If the ban does take place we will be leafleting the football match at Sunderland, explaining what has happened regarding the ban. "

A spokeswoman for the ANL said they were determined to counter any action from the NF.

The right-wing organisation has said it expects to get between 200 and 300 members in Sunderland – but the ANL expects it to attract about 50 at most.

"We shall have a presence there if the Nazis turn up," said the spokeswoman.

Chief Superintendent Bob Pattison, head of Operational Support at Northumbria Police, said: "While we respect people's right to protest, we have a duty to maintain law and order and feel there are a number of reasons why there is the potential for serious public disorder if the march goes ahead."

The news of the march comes on the day that new figures show the number of football-related arrests increased last season.

But the focus of the trouble has shifted from stadiums to other areas and the thugs are more violent and better organised.

The National Criminal Intelligence Service highlighted the changing nature of hooliganism – with most of the violence now centred on train stations, pubs and even neighbouring towns.

The hooligans are also better organised, using technology such as mobile phones and the Internet.

Weblink: www.itfc.co.uk

www.safc.com/

www.homeoffice.gov.uk

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists