(Reuters) -The British government’s sports stadium safety regulator has announced that it is investigating complaints of “overcrowding and crushing” by Newcastle United fans at Hillsborough Stadium during the FA Cup match against Sheffield on Wednesday.
Images and footage on social media showed congestion around the exit of the tunnel at Leppings Lane End, with a number of Newcastle fans claiming a lack of attendants before kickoff on January 7.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries.
Sheffield Wednesday released a statement saying it has submitted its comprehensive observations to the Football Association at the request of the club’s governing body.
“… It is important to emphasize that the number of attendants in the visitors’ section of the stadium exceeds the Safety Certificate requirements,” the statement said.
“The allocation of tickets issued to Newcastle fans was also strictly in accordance with the Certificate of Safety.”
The club said fewer fans enter the visitors’ turnstiles when adjusted for the number of tickets allocated and sold.
The turnstiles were opened 30 minutes before the regular match day, two hours before kick-off, allowing Newcastle fans to enter the stadium as soon as possible.
Hillsborough was the scene of England’s worst sports disaster in 1989, when 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death in an overcrowded and fenced area in the same lower tier before an FA Cup semi-final. suffers from severe and irreversible brain damage.
The Sports Fields Safety Authority, the British government’s sports arenas safety adviser, said on Tuesday it would look into the incident on Wednesday and with local authorities.
“We are concerned about reports of overcrowding and crushing during Wednesday’s FA Cup draw between Sheffield and Newcastle United at Hillsborough Stadium,” a spokesperson for the SGSA told the BBC.
“SGSA is working with the club, Sheffield City Council and the Safety Advisory Group to review the incident, learn the lessons and provide a safe environment for football fans.”
League One side Sheffield beat Newcastle 2-1 to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup.
(Reported in Bengaluru by Hritika Sharma and Manasi Pathak; edited by Kim Coghill)