Everton review security arrangements in wake of ‘high-risk’ Southampton game

Everton say they are reviewing all security arrangements after their board of directors were ordered to stay away from Saturday’s game against Southampton at Goodison Park.

Merseyside Police is in contact with the club over alleged threats made towards the club’s directors ahead of last weekend’s fixture.

Consultation between Everton and the police resulted in the Southampton match being made “a high-risk fixture” and, following further discussions, Everton’s next home game against Arsenal on February 4 will be in the same category.

Everton fans protested after the match against Southampton
Everton fans protested after the match against Southampton (Peter Byrne/PA).

Supporters’ ire has turned on Everton’s hierarchy in the last few weeks as they face a second successive season battling to retain their Premier League status.

The PA news agency understands Everton chairman Bill Kenwright last week received death threats via email, while chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale was grabbed by a fan and placed in a headlock as she left the directors’ box after a recent game.

All board members were instructed to stay away from Goodison Park on Saturday, when thousands of supporters joined a post-match sit-in to protest against the running of the club.

Police also had to cordon off the exit to the players’ car park, but it did not prevent the likes of Yerry Mina and Anthony Gordon being confronted in their vehicles on roads surrounding the ground.

In a statement issued on Monday night, the club said: “Everton Football Club is reviewing all matchday and non-matchday security arrangements following the home game with Southampton on Saturday.

“Enhanced security procedures and protocols are being put in place for the club’s players and staff following incidents at this and previous games.

“Everton’s directors were instructed to not attend Saturday’s fixture following a thorough security assessment in advance of the game. The guidance was based on intelligence gathered and information received directly by the club.

“Everton’s game with Southampton was made a high-risk fixture following consultation with Merseyside Police. Following further discussions with the force, the club can confirm that Everton’s next fixture at Goodison Park (Arsenal on Saturday 4 February) will also be categorised as high risk.

Everton v Southampton
There was a large police presence outside Goodison Park for Everton’s game against Southampton (Peter Byrne/PA)

“The club will not be making any comment related to specific historic incidents.

“The health, safety and security of our supporters, staff and players is and will always remain our top priority.

“The club would like to thank the vast majority of supporters who behaved impeccably before, during and after the game with Southampton – as they have done throughout the season.”

Merseyside Police confirmed “no threats or incidents were reported to police prior to the game” against Southampton, but talks are ongoing to determine whether any offences have occurred.

A statement said: “We can confirm that Merseyside Police is liaising with Everton Football Club following alleged threats towards directors ahead of the Premier League fixture against Southampton on Saturday, 14 January.

“No threats or incidents were reported to police prior to the game, but we are in communication with the club to establish if any offences have taken place, and to ensure that any future reports are received through existing channels.

“Any threats reported to Merseyside Police would be assessed and investigated as a matter of course, and any appropriate safety measures implemented.

“We are also aware of videos in circulation of fans approaching players’ cars as they made their way from Goodison Park after the match.

“At this stage no offences have been reported.”

Everton slid to a 2-1 home defeat to bottom-of-the-table Southampton, the only team below the Toffees in the standings at the halfway point of the season.