Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Leppings Lane end has capacity reduced from 4,700 to 3,700
Hillsborough’s Leppings Lane end will have its capacity reduced from 4,700 to 3,700 following a review into an unsafe ‘crush’ during Sheffield Wednesday’s FA Cup third round tie with Newcastle in January.
Newcastle supporters reported feeling unsafe in the same end 97 Liverpool fans were killed in during their 1989 FA Cup semi-final clash with Nottingham Forest.
A review was launched into the safety of the end, with Sheffield City Council on Monday revealing their findings by releasing the minutes of the meeting.
The crucial decision to come out of the meeting, which was attended by various bodies including the club, South Yorkshire police and the ambulance service, is in regards to the capacity of the west end of the ground, which has been reduced by a thousand.
‘Regarding capacity reduction, we can advise that: The Upper West Stand now has a further reduced capacity of 2400 (down from 3200 as a result of the recent review) for a stand with a holding capacity of 4194,’ the council said.
Newcastle fans complained of overcrowding in the Hillsborough away end in January
The Leppings Lane end will have its capacity reduced by 1,000 as a result of a review
The Leppings Lane end has a storied and unfortunate history in regards to football supporters
‘The Lower West Stand now has a further reduced capacity of 1300 (down from 1500 as a result of the recent review) for a stand with a holding capacity of 2366.’
Newcastle supporters feeling unsafe inside the ground revealed that a combination of it feeling too tight and stewards pointing others in the wrong direction had led to a squeeze inside the ground, both on the concourse and in both tiers.
The findings in the report state that neither tier was found to be over capacity, while stewarding numbers were of an appropriate level. The report adds that the council reached out to the Newcastle Supporters Trust who provided accounts, 50 of which were used to come to the report’s eventual findings.
One Twitter user, Barry, wrote at the time of his experience in the away end: ‘I was in the centre of the lower tier and it was ridiculously crowded 10 minutes before kick-off. The stairwell filled with fans and when we arrived we asked stewards to point us in the right direction. One told us to go wherever we want!’
Another fan said: ‘Horrific. We were crushed, so had to rip off the blue covers (from seats) to create our own area for about 100 people.
‘Stewards above with empty seats were turning down fans with valid tickets. A mess.’
One supporter added: ‘Even the top tier concourse was rammed tight. Stairwells too narrow and the stewards directing fans to the wrong area creating more bottlenecks. This shouldn’t be happening.’
Another said: ‘It was absolute chaos. The bottom tier is the worst I’ve seen, people having to pick their children up as it was so tight.’
The stand already has significant reductions in capacity, with netting covering a few hundred seats. While 97 seats always remain unsold in memory of the Liverpool supporters who died on that fateful day in spring 1989.
Hillsborough marked a watershed moment for British football, sparking the Taylor Report which, among other recommendations, led to all-seater stadiums.
For some fans, it brought back memories of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 that saw 97 die
Apologies were issued earlier this year by various policing bodies in regards to the disaster 34 years ago
Various cover ups were made in the years following the disaster, with the national body for police chief constables only issuing an apology earlier this year into the various failings made by those in positions of authority.
Martin Hewitt, the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), made the apology at the launch of a report which promised to learn lessons from the more-than-three decade-long scandal.
Andy Marsh, the chief executive of the College of Policing, the standards-setting body for the police, also apologised, stating: ‘Policing has profoundly failed those bereaved by the Hillsborough disaster over many years and we are sorry that the service got it so wrong.
‘Police failures were the main cause of the tragedy and have continued to blight the lives of family members ever since. When leadership was most needed, the bereaved were often treated insensitively and the response lacked coordination and oversight.’