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Operations

Hillsborough passes safety checks following Newcastle complaints

Featured image credit: dom fellowes/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size

Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium has passed a safety review launched following reports of overcrowding at the club’s FA Cup tie with Newcastle United last month.

The review, commissioned by Sheffield City Council (SCC) and Sheffield Wednesday and with oversight from the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA), concluded that all aspects of safety at the 37,900-capacity stadium complied fully with the English Football League One club’s safety certificate.

As part of the review the group reached out to Newcastle United supporters who attended the fixture, liaised with partner agencies, examined matchday records and scrutinised 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.

Newcastle supporters had complained of overcrowding in the Leppings Lane End as well as a lack of stewarding. Following the conclusion of the review, Sheffield Wednesday said Newcastle’s ticket allocation and the number of stewards on the day complied with its safety certificate.

Joe Otten, a Sheffield City councillor, said: “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, and where concerns are raised, we take them very seriously.

“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.”

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

Liam Dooley, Sheffield Wednesday’s chief operating officer, said some minor recommendations will be implemented to improve the matchday experience for visitors.

He added: “We welcome the outcome of this review as the welfare of all supporters and everyone inside the stadium is our utmost priority.

“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.”

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