Wigan unhappy with local cops

Wigan have accused their local police of unfair tactics at their home games.

The Premier League side say Greater Manchester Police have trebled the cost of policing matches at the JJB Stadium and are asking a High Court judge to referee a legal battle over a bill approaching £300,000.

Mr Justice Mann was told that Wigan used to be charged for special policing services they requested inside the stadium.

But now the police also demand payment for the area surrounding the stadium.

Adam Lewis, representing the club, told the judge: "The GMP appears to say that it can provide and charge for whatever services it wants and at whatever charge. That is wrong.

"Certainly it has an operational discretion, but no entitlement to go beyond what is reasonably fair when it comes to setting policing levels and charges for them.

"For it to do so is unlawful, whether it characterises its actions in this context as public or private."

He said the police were taking advantage of Wigan's circumstances as a Premier League team to charge for special policing at a very much higher level than other clubs in the area.

GMP charged the club £226,184 in the 2003-04 season and £283,082 for 2004-05, compared to £61,058 in 2002-03.

When Wigan originally refused to pay the higher bill, the police threatened to withdraw their services for this season, which would have meant no home matches.

Mr Lewis said: "Wigan had no choice but to pay the balance but did so expressly under protest and without prejudice to its defence in the action."

He said Wigan's case was that the GMP can only charge for officers on duty within the stadium, inside the turnstiles, where only ticket holders can go.

The GMP says it was entitled in law to charge Wigan for officers who are deployed in the stadium and in the surrounding area, including car parks, roads and open ground.