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Police concerns over Harrow Road pub’s plan to show live football and allow more punters on event days

The Metropolitan Police have warned recent plans tabled by a pub near Wembley Stadium could lead to ‘riots like those at the Euro 2020 final’. The venue wants to show live football and double the number of punters allowed in the garden on event days, but there are fears this could lead to an influx of ticketless fans to the area.

The Arch sits on Harrow Road roughly half a mile from the national stadium. The pub currently operates under a raft of conditions to prevent crime and disorder, namely regarding match day, capacity and noise limitations. The owner, Indes Bar, has now applied to Brent Council to have some of these restrictions lifted.

However, the police have urged the council to block the plan as they feel removing the conditions would pose a ‘high risk’. Pubs in the area are already under strict orders, such as not being allowed to show live football games during Wembley events, only allowing in one set of fans or selling alcohol an hour before it starts. Officers believe the changes would attract ticketless fans and want to ‘stop a repeat performance of the Euro 2020 riots’.

The force’s dedicated football officer, PC Paul Jennings, said: “Public houses within the footprint showing the game attract ticketless fans. It is then those fans that caused the riots in the Euro 2020 finals. […] The showing of football games and ticketless fans on event days at the stadium is the route of crime, antisocial behaviour, rioting and disorder at our national stadium.”

He added: “Premises not serving alcohol for an hour before kick-off greatly assists in the safe ingress of thousands of supporters. Without this, we would inevitably see a later walk up of large numbers of supporters, often under the influence of alcohol, putting increased pressure on the stewarding operation and on the turnstiles themselves increasing the rise to both supporters, staff and police officers.”

Police trepidation of the plan also stems from the premises ‘long history’ of breaching its existing licensing conditions. Over the past six years, the pub has been issued five warnings from officers after being caught for multiple infractions, including overcrowding, not closing on a match day, and using the garden later than it is allowed.

Wembley Stadium is set to host this year’s Champions League final on July 1, with officers warning that now is not the time for venues to relax the rules. PC Phil Graves argues that, due to its history of breaking the rules, the premises ‘cannot be trusted’ to have conditions removed at such a critical stage.

PC Graves said: “The whole of the footballing world will be watching Wembley on this day with rival teams travelling from across Europe. Taking into account what happened at the last European final to be held at our National Stadium I would argue that now is not the appropriate time for any venue to relax its football licensing conditions.”

The Arch is also looking to increase the garden capacity from 100 to 180 and to allow fans of both playing teams to drink in the pub for women’s football games. The application will be reviewed by the council’s entertainment and alcohol licensing sub-committee at a meeting next month (March 5).

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