Across the last ten years the policing of demonstrations in the UK has witnessed substantive change in terms of both statutory guidance and operational practices. With this study we highlight how the policing of football crowds in the UK has, to date, yet to undergo similar change, despite being covered by the same statutory guidance. On the basis of largely qualitative data and analysis generated through a quasi-ethnographic approach we explore the dynamics of police football crowd interactions. We identify how current approaches can fail to adequately understand the nature of risk and lead to a disproportionate deployment of resources both of which have the potential to increase rather than reduce the risk of disorder. We propose that forces develop and test innovative approaches to football policing that are engrained in existing public order guidance, but which move away from a reliance upon fixed categories of risk, focus more on the positive human rights of supporters, and prioritise the tactical deployment of bespoke resources to improve dialogue with fans.