Sheffield Wednesday handed Hillsborough supporter safety management order
Sheffield Wednesday football club has been ordered to make changes to how it manages supporters following safety concerns outside the Leppings Lane end of the ground – where the Hillsborough disaster unfolded in 1989.
A prohibition notice has been served on the Championship club which stops home fans been being released from the north and south stands on to the Leppings Lane forecourt at the west end of the stadium.
Problems at that end of the ground, which is where away supporters leave the stadium, led to the Hillsborough disaster which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans 30 years ago.
Concerns were raised following crowd trouble at the Steel City derby between Wednesday and Sheffield United in March.
Sheffield City Council said it has been liaising with the club and South Yorkshire Police (SYP), and the move has been made ahead of another local derby on Saturday, when Barnsley are due at Hillsborough.
Steve Lonnia, chairman of the council’s Safety Advisory Group (SAG), said: “Following the submission of a report commissioned by South Yorkshire Police that highlighted issues with regards to public safety on the Leppings Lane forecourt at Hillsborough Stadium, the council and members of the group have worked very closely with Sheffield Wednesday to resolve these issues.
“As the certifying authority, public safety is of paramount importance and it is our duty to act on matters that pose a risk to the public. Due to the evidence presented in the report, we immediately requested that the club submit proposals to deal with the issues raised.
“A prohibition notice has been served that means there will be no access or egress from the north and south stands on to the Leppings Lane forecourt for home supporters.
“Throughout this process we have worked together with Sheffield Wednesday to find a safe and acceptable solution to these issues and they have now submitted proposals in an attempt to address them. As the certifying authority we will now assess these with the other members of the Safety Advisory Group.”
SYP said in a statement: “We received the proposals from the club to address the concerns ahead of tomorrow’s match, at 10am this morning. We will work in partnership, in the time now available, to seek a positive outcome but our priority will always remain public safety.
“Following the last Sheffield derby, South Yorkshire Police listened to feedback from supporters, the SYP Football Independent Advisory Group and commissioned an independent analysis of crowd safety at the stadium.
“The report was provided to the club on June 27 2019 and since then, and going forward, we remain committed to working with the club, the SAG and all partners to ensure the safety of everyone attending matches at Sheffield Wednesday.”
The club said it took “serious issue” with the report and that it was undertaken without their knowledge.
Wednesday said they have commissioned their own experts and will provide the SAG with detailed responses and recommendations.
A spokesman said: “Supporters can be assured that we are working diligently to resolve this matter and are fully committed to defending our position using all available legal routes in order for the prohibition notice to be lifted at the earliest opportunity.”
In the meantime, it will put in place a series of measures to make sure it complies with the notice for the game against Barnsley.
In response, SYP said it was “disappointing” that Wednesday had criticised their approach.
A spokesman said: “While the match tomorrow will go ahead, there is clearly further work to be done due to various issues raised as a result of this process.
“The safety of the public has to remain our top priority.”