Sheffield United have said they are ‘disappointed’ after a city MP made ‘inaccurate’ comments to the media about the safety of fans before Friday’s Steel City Derby.
Yesterday, Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts called for a review of the safety arrangements at Bramall Lane after claiming fans were caught up in a ‘crush’ outside the ground.
He said he and a number of other away fans – including children – had been caught up in the ‘dangerous’ situation after one of the away turnstiles failed before the evening kick off.
However, Sheffield United have now responded to the MP, saying they have examined CCTV footage of the incident and found 'no evidence’ of the crushing he alleges.
They said: “Firstly, we are disappointed that Mr Betts has sought the attention of the media before providing the club with the opportunity to review with our stewards, senior management and South Yorkshire Police to respond to his comments, which we feel are not accurate.
“Guidance states that turnstiles admit 660 people per hour so for the 2,190 visiting supporters to access the stadium we would have only needed four turnstiles to be open. However, we followed our usual policy which recognises that many fans arrive close to kick-off and opened all six, which are evenly distributed serving the Bramall Lane lower stand area. Also, it provided cover for any breakdown of a turnstile. Our log of the evening reported one to have stopped working at 7.34pm.
“Following the failure of that turnstile it would have been unwise to indicate other turnstiles were open by a PA announcement as this could have led to a sudden uncontrolled movement. Some of our stewards took spectators to other turnstiles, as you would expect, rather than cause an uncontrolled movement.
“A CCTV system covers the entry points and our control room had a view of the build-up. We have examined the footage and there are no images of reported crushing. Furthermore, we have not received any reports directly to the Club of children or young people crying. Currently, we have received three complaints from away supporters and are in the process of talking with the individuals.
“The roadway and the management of the spectators at the away end were made after extensive discussions with South Yorkshire Police and was sufficient to hold the away fans with tickets. In addition to the police officers at the Bramall Lane end of the ground, we had 28 regular stewards, eight search and eject stewards, a deputy safety officer, a senior supervisor, a stand supervisor and an operations manager – a number we, as a club, felt sufficient to help away supporters enter and depart the stadium.
“We can assure Mr Betts that we review every matchday operation and will be doing this in conjunction with South Yorkshire Police. Also, we have invited Mr Betts to meet with our senior management and stewarding team.”