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Bradford Park Avenue Football Club faces having its alcohol licence revoked
The police are calling for Bradford Park Avenue Football Club to be stripped of its licence to sell alcohol at its home ground following drunken fighting which broke out among supporters at its promotion-winning play-off match at the end of last season.
It follows severe criticism of the club by police as its directors refused to close down the bar at Horsfall Stadium during the match in May, despite requests from officers.
Now the management of the bar has come under fire with accusations of more concern being shown for profits than public safety.
A licence was granted to the club in October 2011 with a set of strict conditions, following initial complaints last summer that there appeared to be “no control over the running of the bar” and that people were allowed to consume alcohol in the stands and wander around with glasses and bottles – breaching the conditions of the licence.
The club’s finance director Kevin Hainsworth held meetings with police licensing officers and agreed to employ a security officer to control the entrance to the club bar. But despite these measures, the police had similar concerns again at a match in January.
But it was trouble that flared during the play-off final between Bradford Park Avenue and FC United of Manchester that has caused police to ask for the alcohol licence to be revoked.
Extra police and security officers were drafted in for the match due to difficulties between the two sides’ supporters in the past. In a report to Bradford Council’s licensing panel, Bradford South Police Licensing officer PC Su Dawson described how FC United supporters arrived early and began drinking at a nearby pub before moving down to the club prior to kick off and continued to drink alcohol from the club’s bar.
A number of supporters were ejected, then as one FC United supporter was arrested for alcohol-related public order offences, PC Dawson said the mood of the crowd changed to become hostile.
At this point officers requested Mr Hainsworth to close the bar voluntarily, but he “flatly refused”. Later as the game went into extra time, the police stepped in to close the bar down.
PC Dawson said in her statement: “Kevin Hainsworth stated: ‘What am I going to do with the two barrels that I have just ordered and are on their way?’”
As Park Avenue scored the only goal of the match in extra time, public disorder broke out outside the club bar between both sets of supporters, so the bar remained closed until after the away supporters had left.
PC Dawson later discovered licensing officers in Leeds had concerns about the same pair, Mr Hainsworth and the club’s chief executive Bob Blackburn, who is also the designated premises supervisor. This related to the La Liga Soccer Centre, Dick Lane, Thornbury , where the licence was reviewed in April and stringent conditions attached to stop problems with underage drinkers.
Now police are asking the licensing panel, when it meets next Thursday to revoke the Bradford Park Avenue licence.
Mr Blackburn or Mr Hainsworth could not be contacted for comment by the Telegraph & Argus yesterday.