Fans banned from Gills match

Gillingham, Gills, football
The Priestfield Stadium is the home of Gillingham FC Photo:

Gillingham's match with Swindon Town later this month is set to be played behind closed doors after a row over policing.

The match is due to be played at the Priestfield Stadium on April 21st but Medway Council has issued a prohibition notice preventing supporters attending.

It follows a row over funding for policing between Gillingham FC and Kent Police.

Matches between Gillingham and Swindon are subject to fierce rivalry and have traditionally required a higher number of officer to control crowds. The rivalry between the clubs dates back to the 1970s.

Gillingham FC, Gills, medway
Kent Police provided a large presence when Gillingham played Swindon in 2008 Credit: ITV News

Councillor Mike O'Brien, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Customer Contact said: "Due to a dispute between Gillingham FC and Kent Police about the costs and number of police officers needed at Priestfield Stadium for the match against Swindon Town on April 21st, we have unfortunately been left with no alternative but to issue a prohibition notice on the game preventing supporters from attending."

Gillingham FC, Gills, medway
Cllr Mike O'Brien of Medway Council has issued a prohibition order. Credit: ITV Meridian

We have done this following advice from Kent Police that they have specific intelligence concerning the match and its fans.

– Cllr Mike O'Brien, Medway Council

Cllr O'Brien added that the council was confident that the intelligence showed that the police were right to raised concerns about security at the match.

"We are satisfied that.....the risk is so serious for fans that, until steps have been taken to reduce it to a reasonable level through agreeing adequate policing levels, spectators will be prohibited from attending the match," he said.

The Gillingham Supporters Club said that they believed that the police had tried to move the match forward to address the problem but that this had been resisted by the club.

Gillingham FC, Gills, Medway
The Priestfield Stadium where Gillingham are due to play Swindon Credit: ITV Meridian

We fully sympathise with all the fans that want to watch this match and we sincerely hope that Gillingham FC and the police can get together urgently to resolve this matter."

– Cllr Mike O'Brien, Medway Council

Chief Superintendent Alasdair Hope of Kent Police said: "To expect Kent Police and the tax-payer to subsidise a commercial event is not acceptable. Commercial enterprises across the country pay for the policing of their events, including football matches, and no one is exempt."

"Medway Council as the Licensing Authority has served a prohibition notice on Gillingham FC and discussions are on-going between Kent Police and the club to address the safety issues."

Gillingham FC are expected to give their reaction later.