UK football chiefs urged clubs to bring police officers back into grounds after the hooligan attack on Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish at the weekend.
Bill Bush, the Premier League’s director of policy, said the idea of stadiums with no police presence — which many clubs are moving towards to save money — isn’t working.
“There is something iconic and symbolically important about the police uniform in the ground which, however many stewards you deploy, however well you train them, it’s never going to have that same effect.”
He added that stewards who replace officers do not have the power to arrest and don’t pose the same deterrent as an officer in police uniform.
Half of all games in the top four leagues are now either entirely police-free or staffed only by a handful of police intelligence officers known as spotters. Violent disorder at games was up 24 per cent last year.
The attack on Grealish, which on Monday saw 27-year-old Birmingham City fan Paul Mitchell jailed for 14 weeks, was headlines around the world.
There were no police in sight as Mitchell raced on to the St Andrew’s pitch and struck Grealish across the head from behind.
Later in the match, Grealish scored the game’s lone goal in the 67th minute and would celebrate by jumping into the crowd as Aston Villa held on for a 1-0 victory in the EFL Championship.