We took time to speak with Sue Tilling, our Safety Officer at the Lane, following the comments regarding our fans behaviour against Portsmouth at Fratton Park on Sunday 28th September.
How have we dealt with this Sol Campbell issue in the past?
Sue Tilling: "We were alerted to the issue after the Premier League game at Fratton Park last season. We were determined to be well prepared for the return fixture at White Hart Lane with the intention of avoiding any repeat. We talked extensively with the police, arranged for plain-clothed police officers in the home sections, provided extra stewards with head-cameras to film any footage that might be needed and used our CCTV system wherever possible."
Was there any contact with Kick It Out?
Sue Tilling: "Yes, I arranged for Piara Powar of Kick It Out to meet with myself, Board members Donna Cullen and John Alexander along with Customer Service Manager Jonathan Waite. We explained to Piara what we had put into place for the game and invited further suggestions from him as to how we could best deal with any issues arising out of the game. Piara was more than happy with the plans we had in place and congratulated the club on the way we had gone about things. Donna will again be meeting KIO officials in the near future as well as representatives from the Gay Football Supporters Network."
Will we do anything differently when we play Portsmouth at the Lane in January?
Sue Tilling: "As with last season's fixture we will again work closely with KIO and the Police. At last season's home match against Portsmouth we actually made four arrests. We were able to be this effective at the Lane because we know more about the fans in our own stadium, the stewards know their areas and can assess the mood."
Have we been asked to comment on the events at Fratton Park?
Sue Tilling: "Yes, we have been asked by the FA to write to them with our observations. We are cooperating fully and will provide them with any and all information we have that will help in relation to this matter.
How seriously does the club take these matters?
Sue Tilling: "The conduct of our supporters is taken very, very seriously. Our fans are normally well behaved both at home and at away grounds. The club has had cause to take strong action in the past on a few particular incidents and will do so again if required in the future. We have previously banned individuals for life due to unacceptable behaviour at football matches.
Will offenders be similarly banned in the future?
Sue Tilling: "Yes. We will not tolerate abusive, unacceptable behaviour. We would hope that they are also dealt with through the courts, but we will always take our own action and ban them. This is an ongoing measure for we will not put up with bad behaviour which includes racist, homophobic or obscene chanting in general. "
What is the next step on this?
Sue Tilling: "The current situation is that Portsmouth has asked the FA to investigate the incident. We would like to resolve the issue as soon as possible and we are cooperating fully with Portsmouth, the FA and the Hampshire Constabulary. Once we have the collated evidence and have confirmed the identification of those individuals involved, we will take appropriate and stern action.