Hillsborough match boss refused end swap

Brian Mole.
Brian Mole.
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Football bosses wanted Liverpool fans given the larger end at Hillsborough stadium for a match in which 96 people died, a court heard.

The new inquests into the Hillsborough Disaster yesterday heard evidence from the late Chief Superintendent Brian Mole, who was responsible for policing FA Cup semi-finals at the stadium in 1987 and 1988.

Jurors heard an interview with the late Lord Justice Peter Taylor, who led the initial inquiry into the disaster, in which Mr Mole talked about the Football Assocation requesting more facilities for Liverpool fans.

But Mr Mole, who led planning for the 1989 semi-final, said he wanted the same arrangement as the 1988 semi-final, with Liverpool fans taking the smaller Leppings Lane terrace and Nottingham Forest fans the larger-capacity Kop end.

Mr Mole said he made it ‘crystal clear’ to the FA the only way his force would police the game was if the arrangements were the same as 1988.

The jury heard Liverpool FC also asked the FA for a bigger allocation of tickets for the 1989 game, but Mr Mole said it was not possible as the club was allocated the Leppings Lane end.

Mr Mole told Lord Justice Taylor it was not possible to reverse the allocation of ends, because ‘segregation was important’ and due to travel considerations.

He said fewer fans were travelling to matches by train – which was easier to control – and more by car, partly because fans could not drink on trains.

Mr Mole told Lord Justice Taylor he could tell just by looking at a crowd outside the stadium, whether the fans could get into the ground in time for kick-off.

He was transferred weeks before the fateful match – in which 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death – and replaced by Chief Supt David Duckenfield, who had never commanded a match at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium before.