Police say that football clubs should be contributing more to policing matches, despite Mansfield town’s bill being five times higher than Notts County.
With the new season just days away, a break down of costs reveals the Stags received a £51,570 bill from Nottinghamshire Police for the 2014/2015 season - which equates to more than £2,242 per match at the One Call Stadium.
However, local rivals Notts County, who played in the league higher than Mansfield last season and attracted almost twice as many supporters during an average home match, were billed for just £10,462.
Chief Superintendent Mark Holland, of Nottinghamshire Police, said the bills are only 20 to 25 per cent of the full costs, meaning up to £200,000 of public money was spent on policing games in Mansfield last season.
He said there has been concerted efforts by police forces around the country to force football clubs to pay more for policing but without success.
In 2013 West Yorkshire Police were told by the Court of Appeal that Leeds United were not liable for paying for policing the streets and car parks around the club’s Elland Road stadium during matches.
Mr Holland said: “The police have tried to get full costs recovered, but the courts are backing the football clubs at the moment.
“In my view, it’s very challenging, but they way I see it is that if police are at football matches that means they are not policing in the communities.
“A total of 56 per cent of games are police free, there’s been a massive reduction in the amount of games we go to.”
“We only redeem 20 to 25 per cent of the costs, the rest is paid for through the public purse.
“We’ve had a reduction in the police presence at games because we view it as a commercial event, and we’ve been quite successful in that respect.”
Mr Holland said the costs for Mansfield Town were based on the potential for trouble.
He said the huge gulf in costs between Stags and Notts County is simply down to the ‘risk’ factors, meaning the possibility of violence and disorder from trouble causers.
He said: “It’s nothing to do with the size of the club, it’s to do with the size of the risk of each game.
“The difference between Mansfield Town and Notts County is Notts County don’t have a recognised hooligan group, and don’t have many travelling hooligans.
“Mansfield does have a risk factor, and we have to monitor the risk group and which team they are playing and if they have a risk group, that’s how it’s operated.”
He said each game is categorised in terms of the potential for disorder, which ranges from police-free matches and low-key presence using spotters to gather intelligence, up to high-risk games, with heavy police involvement.
Games are categorised from A-C, with category C games posing the biggest risk, such as matches against fierce rivals Chesterfield.
They have officers inside the ground and outside, and patrolling the town centre, and intelligence is often gathered on handheld video cameras.
Police officers are soon to be issued with cameras fitted to their uniforms as standard, meaning much more data can be collated.
A breakdown of the figures shows Mansfield Town still owe more than 62 per cent of the bill.
However, that is put down to a payment plan agreement with Nottinghamshire Police after the club fell into arrears from the previous season.
Mansfield Town FC and the Stags’ Supporters Association did not respond to requests for comments before Chad went to press.