A new approach to football policing which relies on accurate intelligence and greater fan engagement could halve the costs to clubs and forces nationwide, according to an academic specialising in crowd behaviour.

The English Football League is funding the ENABLE project over the next two seasons, which hopes to improve the matchday experience for supporters and reduce the financial burden of policing games.

West Yorkshire Police - whose most significant matchday operations are carried out at games hosted by Leeds, Huddersfield and Bradford City - is one of the primary forces involved in the ENABLE project.

Professor Clifford Stott of Keele University, a crowd control specialist, leads the ENABLE team. The first stage of ENABLE ran between August 2017 to November 2018.

It recommended enhanced intelligence-gathering and risk assessment ahead of games through increased co-ordination between forces and also consultation with supporters' representatives, a greater focus on human rights at strategic level and greater engagement with supporters during the matches.

ENABLE will observe at least 20 matches across the next two seasons, though could be involved in as many as 17 this season alone.

Professor Stott is confident it could transform football policing in the UK if taken up nationwide - and slash costs.

"If history is anything to go by, we did an intensive programme of work with South Wales Police in 2005 where we looked at their approach. Across a two-year period they saw a 50 per cent reduction in policing costs," he told the PA news agency.

"I believe if we get this right that can be achieved in England and Wales nationally, if the uptake is there."

The primary forces involved in ENABLE currently are Lancashire, South Wales, Staffordshire, West Midlands and West Yorkshire, though Stott said the intention was to involve others over the course of this season and next.

He cited the example of the last two games between Preston and Stoke at Deepdale as case studies of how ENABLE could be effective. Last season Stott said there had been "major disorder" at the match, yet this season policing was reduced at the corresponding fixture.

"(Disorder) is not intentional - a whole series of interactions play themselves out," he said.

"In that (first) fixture, it was simply that when Stoke fans are at home they are allowed out at half-time to smoke in a public area outside. But at Preston they're not.

"So they went down to try to smoke and they weren't allowed out. That created some tension and that led to one of the fans pushing the door open to go outside, the police intervened and there was a major escalation.

"So because they understood that they were able to put in place a load of measures, they put in a temporary smoking zone around the back, they reached out to the fanbase, and taking all that into account they downgraded it, and it paid off because they were right."