EFL security chief dismisses criticism of Hillsborough response

A senior football safety chief has insisted that game officials have “fully finished” an investigation into recent reports of overcrowding in Hillsborough and dismissed the notion that there was a “long and delayed” response.

Newcastle fans complained of overcrowding at Leppings Lane End of the Ground during the FA Cup third-round draw with Sheffield on Wednesday 7 January.

Ninety-seven Liverpool fans died after falling in love in the same stands in the 1989 FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest. In 2016, a coroner ruled that these supporters were unlawfully killed as a result of police errors and delayed emergency response.

Damian Green, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee that investigates the safety of fans at sporting events, said earlier this month reports of overcrowding “chilled his spine” and asked the English Football League. Bob Eastwood, head of security and safety operations, has discovered so far.

“What I want to impress is that the football authorities are literally on top of all this because we want to get to the bottom of it,” Eastwood said.

“This issue is still being investigated by the Sheffield City Council Safety Advisory Group and also by the FA.

“I support the club and am in contact with a few fans who have complained. At the moment, I think it’s actually a little early to attend to the many media reports and social media reports of overcrowding.

“However, clubs have been very quick briefing on their operations and have already taken a number of measures to mitigate some of the issues that are causing some concern for some fans and that do not necessarily mean overcrowding.”

Eastwood said there may have been problems with fans circulating in the lower tiers of the stands.

“I’m not sure how overcrowded it was, but I’m sure I’ll be better informed when I see the fans at the end of the season,” he said.

This seemed like an urgent matter to him, Green said, adding: “I don’t think a long, slow review of what could have gone wrong is what’s needed. He needs something urgently, especially if there are lessons learned about being hostess or the way you check tickets. .

“I suspect we’ll come to Wembley (to the chaos of the Euro 2020 final) later, but with everything that’s going on there, it would be really scary considering that it’s going to become more commonplace.”

Eastwood replied, “I’m a little disappointed to give the impression that we’re going through this at length and in haste, because we’re actually doing the opposite.

“The Safety Advisory Group at Sheffield City Council had full confidence in the club’s security operation because if they didn’t, especially if there was any historical concern that people’s safety was compromised in Sheffield on Wednesday, then city council was going to issue a restraining notice and they didn’t.

“The vice president of the Security Advisory Group was on that fixture and there is no concern at this time that security has been compromised.

“However, fans have legitimate complaints and we take that very seriously.”

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