Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southampton v Portsmouth: Police prepare for derby

Southampton fans arriving at Fratton Park
Image caption Southampton fans were taken in to and out of Portsmouth under police escort in December

Fans will be bussed from Portsmouth to Southampton and back for this Saturday's derby match.

Police are enforcing the "coach bubble" tactic, meaning 3,200 Portsmouth fans will have to buy joint match and coach tickets for the event.

They will be escorted by police from Portsmouth to St Mary's Stadium ahead of the Championship match and home again afterwards.

The tactic was also used at the Fratton Park derby fixture in December.

Police say bussing away fans in and out meant there was no disorder and very few arrests.

They warned Portsmouth supporters not to attend the match unless travelling by coach and urged them to buy coach tickets, or risk missing the game.

Smoke bombs

Southampton and Portsmouth have a long-standing rivalry and this weekend's game is important for both clubs.

Saints are top of the division and chasing promotion to the Premier League and Pompey are battling against relegation after having 10 points deducted for going into administration in February.

Supt Rick Burrows said: "The feedback we had from fans and members of the public after the match in December was overwhelmingly positive and supportive of what we did to achieve a safe outcome for all.

"Any Portsmouth supporter with a ticket for the game and not planning on travelling on one of the official designated coaches - our message is simple: you will not get in."

Mr Burrows said the plans would not "please everybody" but they had attempted to make the plan more "customer-friendly" by working with the clubs.

This Saturday more than 40 coaches will leave from the two departure points of Fratton Park and Lakeside (North Harbour), escorted by officers from the force's Roads Policing Unit.

Paul Barringer, of Lucketts Travel, the company providing the coaches, said the operation was "logistically complex".

Search fans

"We've been reassured by police and all our drivers are comfortable with the preparations," he said.

He said there would be no "turn-up-and-go" seats available on Saturday.

About 250 officers will be on duty in Southampton.

Police will also search fans to check if they are carrying missiles, weapons, flares or smoke bombs.

Road closures will be in place between 11:45 and 12:30 BST and after the game from about 15:00 in Northam Road, Victoria Street, Rochester Street and Britannia Road.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites