Parts of Oxford city centre were temporarily closed off on Tuesday evening as football fans clashed with police.
The trouble occurred ahead of Oxford United’s match with their local rivals Swindon Town in the second round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, the first fixture played between the two teams since 2012.
The disorder centred on the area around The One Bar & Restaurant, which had been designated as a pre-match pub for Swindon Town fans.
Photos and videos posted online showed scuffles between fans and police, as well as fans verbally abusing the police and flares being thrown. Some fans also reportedly threw glasses during the disorder.
At its worst points, the disorder forced police to close Botley Road and Park End Street. A Thames Valley mounted unit was deployed to keep order as part of the police operation. A group of several hundred fans at the scene of the disorder were later escorted by police back to the train station before the match had even kicked off.
Five arrests were made in total. Three Swindon men aged 41, 42 and 47 were detained on suspicion of affray, with the 42-year-old also arrested on suspicion of possession of a class A drug. A 45-year-old man from Calne was also arrested on suspicion of violent disorder. All four men have been bailed until November.
A further arrest related to the Botley Road disorder was made in Didcot, where a 19-year- old man from Oldham was detained and then cautioned for being drunk and disorderly.
David Chu, manager of The One bar, told the BBC, “There were some troubles outside of the building…the Swindon fans were getting hyped up for the game and probably had some disagreement with police. I think they wanted to make their way off to the Kassam Stadium… everything got out of hand. It’s quite scary be- cause it is a bit out of our control but the police handled everything quite well.”
The match itself went ahead as planned at the Kassam Stadium, with no incidents or arrests. Over nine thousand fans watched Oxford United win 2-0 over a 10-man Swindon Town team, Oxford’s fifth consecutive victory against their Wiltshire rivals.
Christian Blunt, local police area commander for Oxford, said in a statement, “Thames Valley Police had a policing operation in place… throughout [Tuesday] afternoon and evening in Oxford to manage the large number of football supporters for the Oxford v Swindon fixture. This is a local derby and we have historically had alcohol-related crime and disorder problems associated with this.
“We worked closely with the football club to ensure the safety of all people attending the event and going about their daily lives in the city.”
“Unfortunately, a small minority of supporters were intent on causing problems which resulted in disorder in Botley Road, near to the train station. Four men from the Swindon area were arrested for public order offences.”
“In addition a large number of people were also prevented from attending the match, due to their behaviour, and were escorted from the City.”
“I am pleased that the rest of the operation went off without incident.”