Leigh Centurions owner Derek Beaumont has hit out at the decision to move the kick-off time of their upcoming fixture at home to Widnes Vikings.
The Centurions’ Round 7 Betfred Super League game against the Vikings on Saturday, 1st April, will kick-off at 4pm instead of the usual 6pm.
The Safety Advisory Group, which advises Leigh Sports Village, insisted that the club had a police presence for the fixture if the kick-off was at 6pm, which would come a significant cost to the Centurions.
Beaumont said he understood why LSV directors have made the change, but said the safety group’s decision was unjustified.
“I would like to apologise to our fans for this change to our planned early evening kick-off and also thank Widnes Vikings for agreeing without issue to this change,”
“We’d planned to play our games early evening for a number of reasons, primarily to avoid any clashes with local football teams, at the same time as leaving the day time free for family events.
“We also believe there is a better atmosphere early evening under the floodlights which is a better setting for our searchlights and fireworks which have become part of our pre-match entertainment.
“It has been communicated to me that there are insufficient resources to deal with a situation should one occur in the town centre as a result of people being at the game later.”
“As a tax-paying citizen, I find this incredibly alarming that our vital resources such as police and ambulance are so stretched.
“Furthermore, I would argue that bringing people to the ground earlier will see them drinking for longer and arriving in the town centre earlier, meaning there will be more alcohol consumed and in my opinion this has the complete opposite effect.
“In my opinion bringing the kick-off forward will heighten the potential for the concerns they have.
“We have no history of trouble at Leigh Sports Village in all our time of playing there and I am not aware of any occasion where it has been necessary to have a police presence or indeed have the police called into the stadium for an incident.
“Our fans have already expressed concerns with bag searches and various procedures and I think they would find a police presence overzealous.
“People will drink what they normally drink before or during a game and this is just meaning they have to start earlier.
“The club cannot allocate significant four figure sums for such services, especially when there is an alternative to the situation.
“Any shortfall is funded by me and I would not be prepared to personally provide sums for something I don’t feel is necessary or justified.”
“Obviously as a responsible business man I accept advice from professional organisations, but everything must be substantiated and evidenced or based on verified intelligence.
“In the absence of that I cannot accept that there is any risk. I am extremely disappointed that we have to change the fixture but we are left with no alternative under the circumstances.”