Ahead of the new Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) season kicking off this weekend, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has launched a new Football Strategy for 2023-2024.
The new guidelines aim to support football clubs in their delivery of safe and secure sporting events by protecting and reassuring the public who are engaged in, or affected by, football matches.
The new football strategy will assist in delivering five key strategic objectives:
- To work in partnership with football clubs, football authorities, local councils and supporters
- To provide consistent approach based on assessment
- To build effective partnerships with football clubs
- To increase real and perceived legitimacy of policing and to empower clubs and supporters to take their responsibility for actions and behaviours of supporters
- To work with clubs, authorities and local councils to prevent the occurrence of offences
Superintendent Chris Hamill, from the Police Service’s Operational Support Department, said: “This bespoke Northern Ireland Football strategy aims to support local football clubs in their delivery of a safe and secure event.
“Our aim is to provide a consistent approach to the policing of local and international football matches leading to an effective and efficient use of police resources.
“This new strategy also aims to protect and reassure the public who are engaged in, or affected by, the football match.
“We remain committed to working in partnership with the Irish FA, NI Football League, local councils and supporters to ensure football matches are safe and welcoming events for all.”
The Irish FA welcomes the proactive approach of the police service and encourages their continued close collaboration with clubs and other stakeholders across the game, ensuring football remains safe and accessible for everyone in Northern Ireland
Gerard Lawlor, NI Football League chief executive, said: “We believe this new strategy, in partnership with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, allows our clubs a clear communication process to work with local police and ensure the safety of supporters across our stadiums this season.
“We have enjoyed an 86% increase in attendances of NIFL Premiership matches in the last 10 years and as the growth of our league continues, ensuring the safety and positive fan experience of our supporters remains hugely important for us.”
Graham Fitzgerald, Irish FA chief operating officer, said: "The Irish FA welcomes the proactive approach of the police service and encourages their continued close collaboration with clubs and other stakeholders across the game, ensuring football remains safe and accessible for everyone in Northern Ireland.”
Image: Pictured at the launch of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s new 2023-2024 Football Strategy is (l-r) chief superintendent Nigel Goddard (PSNI), Anita Hamilton (Head of Stadium Operations, Irish FA), Gerard Lawlor (CEO, NIFL) and superintendent Chris Hamill (PSNI).