Police closed Watford FC pub after former Hornets owner quit supervisor role (From St Albans & Harpenden Review)
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Police closed Yellow and Red Lion hours before Crystal Palace game after learning Laurence Bassini had quit supervisor role
Police shut a Watford FC fans’ pub hours before the match against Crystal Palace FC after learning former Hornets owner Laurence Bassini was quitting as supervising manager.
Watford Chief Inspector Nick Caveney said he temporarily closed the Yellow and Red Lion as the Stanmore businessman’s decision left confusion over who was responsible for the venue.
In a report to the council, officers said Laurence Bassini had been designated premises supervisor (DPS) since April but had not been in the pub since it opened due to his status as a "figure of hate" among Watford FC fans.
Watford Borough Council said Mr Bassini had applied to be removed as DPS in January but the application was rejected as it did not include the statutory fee or premises licence.
John Corkett, a Hertfordshire Constabulary licensing officer, said police had concerns about the running of the Yellow and Red Lion under Mr Bassini prior to its closure.
In a report to the committee, Mr Corkett said: "Mr Bassini is unfortunately a figure of hate as far as Watford supporters are concerned.
"He has not set foot in the venue since it reopened for business under his tenure in April 2012. A DPS does not have to be physically present in a venue but it is preferable that he/she has some idea of what issues are apparent."
Mr Corkett said Mr Bassini had leased the premises to a "Mr A" who was running it, but did not have personal licence to sell alcohol.
He added: "As far as Hertfordshire Constabulary was concerned this was a very unsatisfactory state of affairs.
"It effectively meant that although Mr Bassini was not breaking the law by choosing to remain as DPS, he could not have any knowledge of issues arising and was so remote from day to day operations that he declined to be part of any process or dialogue with police to address licensing concerns.
"The venue is a potential flashpoint for disorder."
Mr Corkett said police had wanted to discuss issues around preventing disorder during the Crystal Palace match with Mr Bassini in the week before the fixture.
However the day before the match the force learned he wanted to relinquish his post of DPS.
Among the documents submitted to the council was a report from Watford Chief Inspector, Nick Caveney, explaining why he decided to shut the Yellow and Red Lion pub hours before the Crystal Palace match.
In his report, Chief Insepector Caveney said there had been other match day problems with the pub since it opened.
In October glass bottles thrown into and from the pubs ground before a Peterborough game. Away fans had also been spotted in the pub on separate occasions in December and January.
Chief Inspector Caveney was in charge of the police operation for the Crystal Palace match and said he was only informed about the lack of clarity surrounding the pub’s ownership on the morning of the game.
After meeting with "Mr A" he decided to close the pub using a section 161 order.
Chief Inspector Caveney cited the previous problems, the heightened risk of disorder at the Crystal Palace match and the management situation at the pub as reasons for its closure.
Following the incident Hertfordshire Constabulary is seeking to add a condition to the pub’s licence that someone with a personal licence to sell alcohol be present at the venue when Watford FC are playing.
Watford Borough Council is due to review the pub’s licence next week.
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