A popular Crystal Palace supporters' pub could be forced to close this week after police pressed ahead with attempts to shut it down.

A Croydon Council licensing committee will meet tomorrow to decide the fate of the Portmanor, in South Norwood, amid a row in which police branded a fervent section of Palace's supporters "hooligans".

The dispute centres on the Holmesdale Fanatics, a vocal group of fans who drink in the Portland Road pub before matches.

The group is renowned as being one of football's most boisterous and often organises colourful displays of support at matches.

However, police claim the group are "a particularly anti-social group of individuals who have repeatedly displayed little regard for the local community" and allege Geoff Charles, landlord of the Portmanor, "embraced the hooligan element".

But Mr Charles, who has run the pub for three-and-a-half years, said he was being unfairly blamed for incidents that had nothing to do with his premises, adding police had even linked domestic violence in nearby houses to his the Portmanor.

The 49-year-old, who DJ'd at the pub before owner Punch Taverns asked him to take charge, said: "The police put a report in saying at one stage the HF let a flair off in Liverpool, another stage where they had a coach going to Watford.

"The coaches never left our pub, never came back to my pub. I think it is crazy. I'm not sure what the agenda is.

"I have talked at length to several leaders of the HF about what I expected if they were to come to our pub.

"We have never had a fight with them in the pub, we have never had a fight with them outside the pub or doing anything around quite a fair radius from the pub.

He added: "They are dedicated to that football club. They are praised by just about everybody for their support, they don't stop singing regardless of what the score is, and the club acknowledge that.

"From my point of view, if you don't fight in my pub or let off flares, until you prove that you are some kind of dangerous person I'm going to let you drink in my pub.

"And to be honest, if it wasn't for match days the pub wouldn't survive."

Croydon Guardian:

Holmesdale Fanatics criticise perceived heavy-handed stewarding

In documents submitted to the sub-licensing committee, the Metropolitan Police detail several incidents allegedly involving the Holmesdale Fanatics - including flares being set off in Selhurst Park and drugs found on a supporters' coach - that are seemingly unconnected to the Portmanor.

The papers also quote a Wikipedia page on fanatical football fans, known as ultras, linking them to extreme political ideology and racism - yet cite nothing to associate the Homesdale Fanatics to such beliefs.

The committee will be also asked to consider reports of youths assaulting of a young couple near the entrance to the Portmanor in January, throwing bottles at a police car and fighting outside the venue.

But Mr Charles said: "The youths never came into our pub and we have got CCTV to back that up. I can't be responsible for every crime that goes on in Portland Road."

He added: "One thing I can say is [the HF] are definitely not a racist bunch. I'm black guy and these guys are all white - a lot of them are Greek in the HF - and there has been not one bit of racism.

"If it was a bad pub then people would be coming forward to say so, but we have had nothing but support.

"We send kids on apprenticeship courses. We have old people in. On Wednesday when it's karaoke we have a woman in who is in her seventies.

We have many people who come on a football day with their children, we have disabled kids who come."

"We have got no axe to grand and we just want to work with the police to sort out any problems they may have."

Coun Wayne Lawlor, for South Norwood, also expressed concerns about the police bid to shut down the pub. 

He said: "Normally if a pub has got a reputation, people tend to know about it. But nothing like that has really come to light to me.

"I have certainly never heard anything adverse about the pub and it has never been in the papers for what it has been reported for.

"I think withdrawing the licence and closing it is premature and I think it is over the top."

The Metropolitan Police, which has recommended the pub's licence be revoked, declined to comment ahead of the meeting.

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