A SEAFORD man was among dozens of people arrested after trouble flared across Sussex ahead of Brighton & Hove Albion’s league game with Crystal Palace last Tuesday.
The 31-year-old was held on suspicion of affray as police battled to keep control of crowds of fans. He was bailed until October 15.
In Seaford, several pubs closed their doors in the hours leading up to the game following fears unruly football fans would be descending on the town.
One landlord told the Gazette that news of a licensee opening for a few local Crystal Palace fans had made its way on to a supporters’ website.
Among those to shut their doors for part of Tuesday were The Wellington, The White Lion and The Old Plough after police received information that a group of 120 ‘risk’ supporters could be coming to Seaford before the game.
Phil Wilkins, manager of the Old Plough, decided to only let in locals for much of the afternoon, before opening the doors to all customers at 4.15pm.
He said, “We erred on the side of caution and spoke to my manager and followed his advice.”
Craig Jeffery, manager of the Wellington, said, “We were made aware of the situation on Saturday.
“Then the police called on Monday morning and said they had information there were category A risk supporters coming down and advised us it would be safer to shut for the day. They told us it was up to us.
“We shut during lunchtime and opened at 5.30pm. You can’t take the risk. I’d rather the police told us and gave us the choice than not mention it.”
However, Lee Cronk, bar manager of the Boot Inn, said he benefited from other venues closing, adding, “We did really well and we were not threatened.”
Bob Tompsett, licensee of the Cinque Ports, was also determined to stay open as was The Crown Sports Bar.
Mr Tompsett said, “The police came in and said a couple of other pubs were closing and said it was up to me. We live in Seaford and not a major city.
“We’ve got a very good Pubwatch scheme that works, if you misbehave in one of the pubs in Seaford you’re banned from all of them.”
Police said that 120 ‘risk’ supporters did not end up coming to Seaford after word got out that some premises were closing for the afternoon.
Local licensing officer PC Richard Wilkes said, “Seaford town has always had a small like-minded community of licensees who are committed to ensuring safe and well run venues which are for everyone to enjoy and free from crime and disorder. This objective has always been supported by a successful local Pubwatch scheme working in close partnership with the Seaford Neighbourhood Policing Team.”
Sergeant Andy Bennett said, “I can only echo PC Wilkes’ praise of local licensees and look forward to supporting them in ensuring Seaford continues to be a safe environment for all to enjoy.
“There were in fact no reported incidents of football related disorder in Seaford throughout the day which is testament to the licensees of local premises and their patrons.”