Clubs At All Levels Looking At An “Own Stadium” Season FinalePeter Houghton
News continues to abound that Clubs at all levels are not in favour of the “neutral venues” approach to concluding the season. A lot of inaccurate “opinion” is offered by several journalists about how clubs will control and secure streets around their stadium in the event of the preferred type of restart.
I have to say that when I see a writer say things like “it is down to clubs to satisfy the authorities that they can provide security in the streets around their stadium”. The streets around a football stadium are in the public domain and are therefore the responsibility of the Police. It is true that some clubs have to implement and manage road closures on match days, especially when spectators are present, but in the absence of supporters is there a need to close roads? Don’t forget the case between Ipswich Town and Suffolk Police where it was found on appeal that only the fabric of the stadium constitutes the footprint and unless a police officer enters the stadium itself, the Police are responsible for the cost and therefore the provision.
The only onus on the club is to work with its local Police service and work out a system for ensuring the security of their stadium is maintained. This is no different to any other match in that context. There is also a pre-supposition that people will turn up anyway, especially where titles, play-off qualification and relegation is concerned. There is no evidence yet available to suggest this will happen. Either way, it will be included in the Risk Assessments we will carry out, using John Newsham’s Risk Analysis (see documents area).
Yes, there are potential risks where clubs have turnstile areas that give onto a public road such as Anfield, Turf Moor, Villa Park etc, but provided that the fabric of the stadium is secure and there is little chance of doors being broken down, I expect the risk of supporter infiltration to be manageable.
Clubs cannot be held responsible if large numbers exist in public roads around their stadium. There will have to be complementary risk assessments from each emergency service and the Police will have to be satisfied that they can manage numbers on public streets and deal with things like social distancing.
Although some safety officers are preparing their documentation for the restart, many are still on furlough or working from home. The football authorities are allegedly trying to put together a task force of safety officers, but I only know of one who is aware that his club has been asked. If they came directly to the FSOA we would be able to arrange that for them reasonably quickly, but one suspects that there may be a different agenda in play. It would be interesting to measure the risk templates that they are working with to the one that John so diligently put together back in March.
Please let us know if you have been approached to join the “task force”.