Fans and players at Hull City will join forces to show their opposition to a “bubble match” enforced by police ahead of Saturday’s Huddersfield Town v Hull City fixture. The peaceful protest also has the backing of Huddersfield Town supporters and the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF).
West Yorkshire Police (WYP) announced last month that this Saturday’s Championship clash would be a bubble match. Bubble matches are games where all away supporters must travel on designated transport, usually club coaches, from specific pick up points. On this occasion fans must meet at a service station just outside Huddersfield.
Hundreds are fans from both sides are expected to join the protest march before the 5.20pm kick-off. Players will show their solidarity by wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the FSF’s Watching Football Is Not A Crime! logo (right) during the pre-match warm-up.
Hull City said: “We would like to commend the actions of those who have worked together in a constructive way to raise awareness of this issue, and at the same time thank the Football Supporters’ Federation for their assistance along the way. We believe the planned march to be a positive way of demonstrating the true feelings of thousands of fans up and down the country.
“We as a Club are proud to have such passionate fans, who we hope will continue to serve as great ambassadors throughout the day; not just for Hull City, but for away supporters far and wide as the national spotlight descends upon us.”
Fans call for “exemplary behaviour”
This is the first time that a club has so publicly backed its own supporters in relation to bubble match travel restrictions and Hull City have emerged from this story with a huge deal of credit. Supporters recognised this and highlighted the day’s importance.
A joint statement from fans’ groups of both clubs said: “Saturday is a very important day for Hull City AFC, Huddersfield Town AFC and their fans. Following the imposition of unwarranted draconian restrictions by the WYP and decisions taken over the policing of the game, the reaction of the fans will be closely monitored.
“Hull City Official Supporters Club is united with Huddersfield Town Supporters Association, Amber Nectar, City Independent, Hull City Southern Supporters and Tiger Chat in requesting all Tigers and Terriers fans, to demonstrate exemplary behaviour.
“Please put your anger, resentment, and frustrations behind you on the day of the game and ensure the day passes without incident and the good name of the two clubs is reinforced.
“We want to witness a peaceful demonstration with our hosts who have campaigned tirelessly on our behalf and a day that gathers all the right publicity for both sets of fans. The banner will spell it out, ‘We Are Not Criminals’, let’s prove it to everyone on Saturday.
“This day should go down in history as the time the fans said ‘no’, the football world took notice, and we created a political will to change the way football is policed for the better.”
Last week Hull City slammed “draconian” police travel restrictions and defended the rights of away fans in general. They argued that WYP are imposing restrictions on supporters in a “diametrically opposing manner” to other forces such as West Midlands Police. This is despite WYP operating under the same national ACPO and FA guidelines.
The club said they empathised with fans over the “deep sense of grievance [and] effective criminalisation of Hull City supporters” and backed the peaceful protest arranged by both sets of fans and supported by the FSF. Malcolm Clarke, Chair of the FSF, will also attend the protest.
Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott even got involved branding bubble matches the “most draconian travel restrictions since miners’ strike pickets were targeted”. Ticket numbers have also been cut to 1,700 for a fixture that would normally have attracted far more travelling supporters.
It’s not just Hull City fans who have to put up with bubble matches. There have been cases at Blackburn Rovers, Bristol City, Burnley, Cardiff City, Leeds United, Millwall, Portsmouth, Southampton and Wolves in recent years. The FSF opposes all bubble matches – if your club has had such restrictions imposed let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fans of both clubs will assemble at 1.45pm outside the train station in Huddersfield. At 2.00pm they will walk in unity to the library where Hull City fan Louis Cooper will give a short speech. Supporters are encouraged to carry non-alcoholic drinks and include their profession or status on any banners so police see the person behind the fan.
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