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Supporters’ bar in trouble after clashes between football fans

Bar Amber in Newport High Street (Pic: LDRS)

ALLEGED clashes between Newport County fans and opposition supporters have landed a city centre bar in trouble with the authorities.

Gwent Police has accused Bar Amber, which closed earlier this year, of “undermining” the conditions of its alcohol licence aimed at preventing crime and keeping the public safe.

The force claims attendees were involved in confrontations with Swindon Town and Eastleigh fans on matchdays in 2023 and 2024, respectively.

Newport City Council’s licensing committee met on Tuesday (April 9) to review Bar Amber’s premises licence.

Most of the meeting was subsequently held behind closed doors so councillors could view CCTV footage of the two incidents – one of which reportedly involved 50 people.

Chairwoman Kate Thomas said this was because the incidents are “subject to ongoing police enquiries”.

The High Street premises was “rebranded” as Bar Amber in September 2022, “with a number of Newport County Fans using the pub as an unofficial supporters’ club”, council licensing officer Steve Pontin told the meeting.

In written submissions to the committee, Gwent Police superintendent Jason White stated a February 2023 match between Newport County and Swindon Town was followed by an “incident at Bar Amber between supporters”.

The police and council had flagged the “concerning behaviour of patrons attending the pub”, including their ages and the “distinct lack of control exhibited by door staff”, Supt White wrote.

The authorities drew up an action plan for the pub’s management, but that “was not implemented by Bar Amber” and “may have contributed to the second serious disorder that took place in February 2024”, Mr Pontin told the committee.

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During that incident, after an FA Cup tie at Rodney Parade, Supt White said Gwent Police received a call alleging that “50 football fans were fighting” and “one male [was] reported to be unconscious on the floor”.

The officer said CCTV footage showed a dozen people leaving Bar Amber to “engage” with Eastleigh fans at another pub in nearby Cambrian Road, where “multiple punches and kicks” were allegedly thrown.

Supt White said five people returned to Bar Amber, then went back to Cambrian Road with seven others from the pub, allegedly “to join the brawl”.

The clash involved an “elderly male being struck and kicked on the floor”, and several people were arrested at the scene, the officer added.

Following that incident, Gwent Police sought a second meeting with the Bar Amber team to add further conditions to the premises licence.

But shortly after that, the management team which rented the building from owner David Barton decided to “surrender the lease to the premises”, Mr Pontin said.

The council licensing officer told the meeting Gwent Police believed “liability of the premises failing to meet” the terms of its licence was “mainly due to the current management team, rather than” Mr Barton’s firm, Harvey’s Leisure South Wales Ltd, which holds the premises licence.

At the meeting, Mr Barton said it was “down to the police and the committee” to decide Bar Amber’s fate.

The force has proposed amending the premises licence in the event of it “no longer being a football supporters’ bar”, Mr Pontin said.

This will include tighter restrictions on days when Newport County play at home.

The committee will announce its decision within five working days.