Supporter transport: A political football or not?

Supporter transport can be lucrative, but it comes with responsibilities

Carrying football supporters represents an important income source for many coach operators, but a recent Public Inquiry (PI) called by Traffic Commissioner Simon Evans shows that this kind of work does not come without its risks. Far from it, in fact.

Bad behaviour from travelling supporters has contributed to one operator having its O-Licence revoked. It was not the sole, or even the main, reason. That was financial standing.

But in his decision, the TC makes very clear the difficulties that can follow if instructions and requirements relating to the transport of supporters are not followed.

He references the extensive passage in the Senior TC’s Statutory Guidance and that refers to the transport of supporters to a designated sporting event in England or Wales.

Odd minor incidents when carrying out such duties are unavoidable, and the extent that some supporters will go to in a bid to circumvent the ban on alcohol on these journeys is remarkable.

But make no mistake, as the recent PI shows, it will be the operator that is called upon to answer potentially O-Licence-threatening questions if things should go majorly wrong, as they did on more than one occasion for the operator in question.

That’s not to say that carrying sports fans is work that should be avoided. Many operators have longstanding relationships with various supporters’ clubs, which provide useful additional revenue at times that are often outside periods of peak demand.

The weekend of the English Football League Play-Off Finals is less than a month away. It’s often a bonanza three days for many coach operators – but consider the above if you’re in the frame for it.