Hillsborough Stadium crowd movement review


Hillsborough Stadium safety review Image: Sheffield Wednesday

A review at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England (UK) over concerns about crowd movements has concluded, stating that all aspects of safety at the stadium complied fully with the club’s Safety Certificate, and minor recommendations were made relating to the overall matchday experience.

‘SheffNews’ stated that the review was commissioned by the Sheffield City Council and the Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, with oversight from the Sports Ground Safety Authority after concerns were raised relating to the match between the League One club Sheffield Wednesday F.C. and the Premier League club Newcastle United F.C. on January 7th.

The Hillsborough Stadium is a 39,732-capacity association football stadium located in Owlerton, a North-Western suburb of Sheffield, Yorkshire, England (UK). It has been the home of Sheffield Wednesday F.C. since its opening in 1899.

The Sheffield City Council is the City Council for the metropolitan borough of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England (UK). It consists of 84 councilors, elected to represent 28 wards, each with three councilors.

The Sheffield Wednesday Football Club is a professional association football club based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. The team competes in League One, the third tier of the English football league system. The Hillsborough Stadium serves as their home venue.

The Newcastle United Football Club is an English professional football club based in Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear. It competes in the Premier League, the highest level of the English football league system. The club was founded in 1892 by the merger of Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End.

The Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) is the United Kingdom Government’s advisor on safety at sports grounds and a world leader in safety.

It provides independent, expert advice, based on nearly three decades of experience in making football in England and Wales a safe and enjoyable experience for spectators. The SGSA uses its experience to advise and support other sports and related industries in the United Kingdom and internationally.

‘SheffNews’ further stated that as part of the review the group reached out to the Newcastle United supporters who attended the fixture, liaised with partner agencies, examined matchday records, and scrutinized closed-circuit television (CCTV) images.

A review of the crowd management procedures implemented by the club on the day, together with revisiting associated capacity calculations, was also carried out.

Commented Councilor Joe Otten, Chair of the Waste and Street Scene Committee, “Public safety is our priority, we work together with the governing bodies and our local clubs to make sure everyone attending matches is safe. We understand that fans are going to feel concerned if they feel like there is overcrowding, so it’s our responsibility to ensure that we don’t put people in that position – where concerns are raised, we take them very seriously. We have carried out a thorough review looking at all the evidence available as well as speaking to fans, officials and stewards who were present on the day. We’ve also reviewed all matchday operation plans.”

Added Otten, “Our findings show full compliance at the stadium and no issues relating to the matchday operation. Some minor changes have been identified to improve the overall experience. As is normal procedure, we will continue working together, carrying out routine checks and sharing plans and knowledge to make sure everyone on site is safe and has the best experience possible.”

The concerns raised were also subject to review by the Safety Advisory Group who agreed with the findings. The Football Association (FA) and the English Football League (EFL) have also been notified of observations from the fixture, with no additional requirements asked of the club or at the stadium.

London (UK)-based The Football Association (The FA) is the governing body of association football in England and the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the amateur and professional game in its territory.

Preston (UK)-based the English Football League is a league of professional football clubs from England and Wales (UK). Founded in 1888 as the Football League, the league is the oldest such competition in the world.

Maintained Liam Dooley, Sheffield Wednesday Chief Operating Officer (COO), “We welcome the outcome of this review as the welfare of all supporters and everyone inside the stadium is our utmost priority. We would reiterate that the stewarding numbers within the visitors’ section of the stadium for the Newcastle fixture exceeded the requirements of the Safety Certificate. The Newcastle ticket allocation also complied completely with the Safety Certificate. We continuously review our safety management plans and ensure the correct measures are in place for every fixture at Hillsborough. Extensive planning meetings with relevant stakeholders are held before each game, with equally extensive review meetings thereafter.”

Concluded Dooley, “While we have full confidence in our matchday operations, we welcome feedback on an ongoing basis as to how we can improve the experience for supporters and listen to any concerns raised as a matter of course. We have worked closely with the Sheffield City Council and the respective sports governing bodies in conducting a robust review of the Newcastle United fixture and are pleased that the findings support the confidence we have in our procedures. Some minor recommendations will be implemented to ensure we continue to deliver the best possible matchday experience.”

A Safety Certificate will set the permitted capacity for the sports ground together with the detailed terms and conditions with which the ground management must comply in order to operate the sports ground at its permitted capacity.

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