FAMILIES of Liverpool FC and Everton FC fans travelling down to next weekend’s FA Cup showdown together face being turned away from pubs due to strict segregation policies.
Tens of thousands of Merseyside fans arriving in the capital for the eagerly-anticipated semi-final will find that bars and pubs within a mile around Wembley have been allocated as solely Red or Blue.
And landlords say anyone wearing the wrong colours will be turned away – or thrown out if they “sneak in”.
Licensed premises on Wembley Park, to the east, will cater for Liverpool fans, while those to the west, near Wembley Central station, will accept only Blues through their doors.
Metropolitan Police licensing officers said their priority is to ensure safety on Wembley match days.
Police also confirmed they will be enforcing a Controlled Drinking Zone in the area around the ground for the first time, and would be confiscating alcohol from those found drinking on the street.
Nearby pubs will close an hour before the 12.30pm kick-off and re-open 15 minutes after the game starts.
Fans expressed their dismay at the fact they will not be able to share a drink together outside the ground before the historic April 14 clash.
Jamie Dempsey, from Wallasey, said: “I’m a Blue and my dad’s a Red. My memories of Wembley are of mixed groups of fans walking down Wembley Way together. It’s really sad that fans are being driven apart, it’s unnecessary. Maybe with other clubs but this is Everton and Liverpool.
“Last time the teams met at Wembley the fans were chanting ‘Merseyside’ together. But this is a wall being put up between us.”
Nick Mortimer, police licensing officer for the London borough of Brent, said: “It’s a complete safety-first policy and happens for every club game at Wembley. All the pubs know which team they will be allocated already and door supervisors won’t let you in if you’re wearing the wrong colours.”
A list of the pubs available to each group of fans was posted on the Football Supporters’ Federation website last week.
And landlords today told how doorstaff will be strictly enforcing the Red or Blue policy on police advice, and advised mixed groups of fans to travel to pubs further from the ground.
Mal Preedy, owner of the Green Man, within the Blue area, said: “All the pubs round the ground will be segregated. Fans aren’t allowed to mix, it’s always the same, such as when the two Manchester clubs met last year.”
Other pubs said they will ticket-check anyone not wearing club colours or “covering up” their shirts before they will be allowed in.
Richard Hunt, of the First Class Sports Bar, said: “We’ll be open from 9am and have been told we’re designated as a Liverpool bar. Door staff will conduct ticket checks to see if they are in the Everton or Liverpool section to ensure that policy is followed.”
One pub manager, Chris Gorton of the Bear, told of his sympathy for families and friends who want to drink together.
He said: “The doorstaff do have strict instructions to only let Blues in here with ticket checks. I would recommend mixed families go for a drink a little bit further out but I’m a Scouser myself, from the Dingle, and I’ll be on the door trying to give a bit of discretion to those who want to come in.”
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said it had “made suggestions as to which licensed premises supporters may wish to attend based on which entrances fans will be accessing stadium” but the decision whether to let in mixed families lay with licensees.
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