Sheffield Wednesday criticise council over 'thoroughly misleading statement' amid crowd concerns

Sheffield Wednesday has criticised the city council for issuing a 'thoroughly misleading statement' amid concerns about crowd safety at the club's Hillsborough Stadium.

Thursday, 22nd August 2019, 7:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd August 2019, 7:32 pm

The Owls were served with a prohibition notice by Sheffield City Council which stops home fans being released from the north and south stands onto the Leppings Lane at the west end of the stadium.

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Wednesday have lodged appeal paperwork to Sheffield Magistrates’ Court but fans described the situation after Tuesday’s game against Luton Town as ‘absolute carnage’.

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The crowds at the north stand concourse on Tuesday.

The day after the game John Mothersole, Sheffield Council’s chief exectuive, said the club could face further action if they cannot guarantee the safety of fans.

The club has now issued a strongly worded statement, in which they state: "Sheffield Wednesday would like to express our extreme disappointment following the statement issued by Sheffield City Council on Wednesday afternoon.

"The fixture against Luton Town on Tuesday evening was meticulously planned with the club having fully engaged with South Yorkshire Police, the council and the local Safety Advisory Group.

John Mothersole.

"The plans in place were executed to the letter with no incident of note reported and the club were not contacted by any of the above parties following a successful security operation.

"We were therefore surprised to discover the council had issued a thoroughly misleading statement, without prior knowledge of the club, based merely on information garnered from social media.

"Further, we were taken aback by the council's decision to comment in such terms at all given there are legal proceedings pending before the Magistrates Court and their own Licensing Sub Committee."

The club described the safety of supporters as an 'absolute priority'.

On behalf of the council, Mr Mothersole had said: “It is very concerning to receive reports of the apparent lack of crowd management in place at Hillsborough Stadium.

“The council assisted the club to recalculate a safe capacity in the north stand as a result of the prohibition notice.

“It is the responsibility of SWFC to effectively manage the crowds and the alleged experience of some fans at last night’s game suggest this may not be happening."

It comes after fans told of packed concourses and supporters ‘falling into Penistone Road after the Owls’ 1-0 win over Luton.

The prohibition notice was served on the eve of the Owls' first home game of the season against Barnsley following trouble after the Steel City Derby against Sheffield United in March.

The club hit back saying it disagreed with the decision and has now lodged appeal paperwork at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court and has requested the licensing sub-committee of Sheffield City Council examines the matter.