Matches between Chester and Wrexham football clubs should be downgraded from 'bubble match' status, according to a North Wales police chief.
But Wrexham Town inspector Paul Wycherley says this will only happen when police intelligence says it is safe to do so.
His comments come following a backlash against the decision to designate the forthcoming clash on March 7 at the Racecourse, between the two sides, a ‘bubble match’.
It means no independent transport is allowed and supporters must use official club transport departing from designated points, to try and stop trouble.
Historically the fixture has sparked trouble between the old rivals sets of supporters.
When Chester FC and Wrexham FC came together again in the Vanrama Conference, a decision was taken by the clubs, following advice from North Wales and Cheshire Police forces, to declare the game a ‘bubble match’.
Insp Wycherley said: “The clubs had asked what was the safest way of policing this and we advised them that it was best to do it this way.
“Liverpool plays Everton, Manchester City plays Manchester United and they are not ‘bubble matches’.
“In the future we do not want to see Wrexham v Chester a ‘bubble match’, but the intelligence we receive tells us there is still a risk of trouble and until that changes, it will be policed this way.
“But if it is downgraded to a normal fixture, there would still be a heavier police presence in the town, because we have a duty to keep shoppers going about their every day business in Wrexham, safe.”
Freedom of Information figures revealed a total of 230 officers policed Wrexham FC’s away derby clash at Chester in April last year, in an operation that cost nearly £40,000.
It revealed that 33 North Wales Police officers assisted their Cheshire colleagues for the ‘bubble match’ on April 19, which ended in a goalless draw.
Among the 4,326 crowd at the Swansway Chester Stadium were 1,180 Wrexham supporters – meaning there was one officer to every five away fans.
A petition was launched in July by Dragons fans calling for the ‘draconian’ restrictions to be lifted when Wrexham were set to face Chester in the corresponding fixture across the border at the Swansway Chester Stadium in September.
That match, which Chester won 2-1, passed off without major trouble as large police numbers kept rival sets of supporters apart. But four arrests were made.
The only real flash-point came just before kick-off during a minute’s silence for the victims of the Gresford Colliery Disaster to mark its 80th anniversary.
A mindless minority of home supporters started chanting during the silence resulting in anger from the Wrexham fans, with a smoke bomb thrown onto the pitch.