Sheffield Wednesday lawyer criticises council banning order at Hillsborough Stadium as 'unfair and unreasonable'
Sheffield Wednesday FC – which is appealing against a ban on home fans using two main exits at Hillsborough Stadium after crowd trouble – has argued that clashes during the city derby had been caused as fans became penned-in by badly parked coaches.
The ban at Leppings Lane was imposed by Sheffield City Council due to safety concerns after crowd trouble at Wednesday’s home game against Sheffield United in March and it was brought in by the start of the 2019/2020 season, Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard today, December 18.
But James Beer QC, representing Wednesday, told the appeal hearing there was evidence Hillsborough had operated in the last three years without any relevant trouble concerns and the prohibition had been imposed without enough notice.
He argued that during the derby match three badly parked coaches on Leppings Lane had created congestion between Wednesday and United fans which led to the crowd trouble.
Mr Beer said: “It had an impact on the flow rate at an exit point and therefore caused congestion and led to disorder.
“And equally important, it was preventable by preventing the parking of coaches and you can make sure they are never parked there again.”
Police used wire fencing in an effort to prevent Wednesday and United fans seeing each other and officers formed a cordon, according to Mr Beer.
But Mr Beer argued the coaches reduced the width of the road and caused an obstruction to the flow of spectators causing them to turn on each other.
He added that an object was thrown and the situation turned to disorder and additional officers were deployed.
Mr Beer said: “The focus has been on the geography of the ground and we say that is completely wrong. It’s unfair and unreasonable.”
He added that a subsequent report commissioned by South Yorkshire Police had recommended further investigation and analysis and not a total prohibition.
The QC said: “What this report is most certainly not saying is that there is an urgent need for safety and if the prohibition is not imposed there will be a serious risk.
“But this is the material upon which the council relied upon.”
The case continues.