Derby Days Insight
You would have heard by now that both the upcoming Autumn local derbies away at the Baggies and at home to the Blues have been selected for Sky TV.
While the Second City derby remains at the same date and time on Sunday 25th November at 12noon, the away clash at The Hawthorns was moved forward to the Friday night on 7th December with a 8pm start.
There had been some supporter concerns about it now being a Friday night kick-off, especially after the unrest that happened during the FA Cup 2015 evening kick-off between the two teams.
Over the last couple of months MOMS has attended the West Midlands Police Football Supporters Independent Advisory Group (IAG). The group is a collection of various supporters reps from different West Midland teams that form an independent group that allows two-way conversation between the police and its six local teams.
From a supporter point of view, the police supply increased access and understanding of the tactics officers use to keep supporters safe and the complexities involved policing matches, while supporters can both raise concerns and criticisms, while also providing the police with a better understanding of the current fan issues of the individual clubs.
On the subject of the Friday evening switch of Villa’s trip to West Brom, while the decision was Sky TV’s and the police don’t really have a say in the matter, the IAG was informed the school of thought is that policing such an evening game is potentially easier for the police, despite some fans’ fears.
The window where active football policing is needed is shortened with a 8pm kick-off. Being a week day, most people are at work to around 5.30pm, then obviously will return home at night after the game or go out on Friday night, where they’ll be covered by the city’s normal policing for the night.
A Saturday fixture on the other hand, offers up a much bigger window of time to police. You have people drinking several hours before a 3pm kick-off, then policing is needed to cover the hours after the game, before some fans continue on to their Saturday night out.
With the FA Cup fixture back in 2015, that was a 5.30pm Saturday fixture, so you had the build-up of a whole day’s worth of drinking. Plus, it was the second fixture in the week between the two teams, so the needle between the two sets of fans was perhaps increased (also it didn’t help that away fans were put in the upper tier of the North Stand above Villa fans in the lower tier).
Second City Drone
The IAG was also informed that the police will be using a drone unit during the Villa vs Blues fixture next month. As supporters will know, due to the history of the fixture, there’s been a tendency for the employment of helicopter surveillance in past fixtures, which obviously carries big costs.
The drone will obviously cut such additional costs right down for the police.
While there are obvious wider civil liberty issues to consider in terms of surveillance and privacy, the police stressed the additional benefits to fans of having a drone includes having it employed to monitor car parks, during the duration of the actual game.
The drone unit is currently on trial and has been previously used for the WBA vs Reading game, earlier this season. You can follow the drone team on Twitter for more information on its actions – @dronesWMP
(PS – The main picture isn’t of a West Midlands Police vehicle!)
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Remaining Aston Villa 2018/19 Fixture List
*- denotes Sky TV game
26: Queens Park Rangers (a) 7.45pm*
2: Bolton Wanderers (h) 7.45pm*
10: Derby County (a) 3pm
25: Birmingham City (h) 12noon*
28: Nottingham Forest (h) 7.45
1: Middlesbrough (a) 5.30pm*
7: West Bromwich Albion (a) 8pm*
15: Stoke City (h) 3pm
22: Leeds United (h) 3pm
26: Swansea City (a) 3pm
29: Preston North End (a) 3pm
1: Queens Park Rangers (h) 3pm
12: Wigan Athletic (a) 3pm
19: Hull City (h) 3pm
26: Ipswich Town (h) 3pm
2: Reading (a) 3pm
9: Sheffield United (h) 3pm
13: Brentford (a) 7.45pm
16: West Bromwich Albion (h) 3pm
23: Stoke City (a) 3pm
2: Derby County (h) 3pm
9: Birmingham City (a) 12noon
12: Nottingham Forest (a) 7.45pm
16: Middlesbrough (h) 3pm
30: Blackburn Rovers (h)3pm
6: Sheffield Wednesday (a) 3pm
10: Rotherham United (a) 7.45pm
13: Bristol City (h) 3pm
19: Bolton Wanderers (a) 3pm
22: Millwall (h) 1pm
27: Leeds United (a) 3pm
5: Norwich City (h) 12.30pm
(Sky Sports changes will be subject to a five-week minimum notice commitment)