Sheffield Wednesday respond to Hillsborough safety order and announce matchday changes

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Sheffield Wednesday have responded to a ground safety order placed on Hillsborough – with changes for fans ahead of tomorrow’s South Yorkshire derby with Barnsley.

The club has released a lengthy statement in response to a report citing safety concerns at the Leppings Lane end of the stadium following the Steel City Derby in March.

Changes in the way fans are allowed to leave the stadium will come into force ahead of tomorrow’s Championship clash.

Here’s the club statement in full:

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Hillsborough has been hit with a safety notice for supporters.Hillsborough has been hit with a safety notice for supporters.
Hillsborough has been hit with a safety notice for supporters.

“Following a high number of well publicised complaints by supporters of both Sheffield clubs over the tactics deployed by South Yorkshire Police (SYP) following the Sheffield derby in March 2019, SYP commissioned a report from an expert in crowd safety from Manchester Metropolitan University. This report was submitted to the local Safety Advisory Group (SAG} in Sheffield.

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“At a subsequent meeting of the SAG, the report was presented by its author and SYP.

Sheffield Wednesday were asked for the club’s observations and it was made clear in the strongest possible tone that we took serious issue with the findings of the report.

“We also questioned its timing, the author’s analysis of events in March and the fact the report was conducted without the prior knowledge of the club.

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“Alas, the SAG’s response to the report was to issue a Prohibition Notice and despite discussions running all the way up to Wednesday of this week - just three days before our first home game of the new season - the Notice was upheld.

“This prohibits the club from allowing home supporters to enter and exit the North Stand of Hillsborough via the Leppings Lane turnstiles and exit gates, beginning with Saturday’s Championship fixture against Barnsley.

“The club has commissioned its own team of experts to prepare their own findings and provide the SAG with detailed responses and recommendations regarding crowd safety management and tactical options moving forward.

“Supporters can be assured that we are working diligently to resolve this matter and are fully committed to defending our position using all available legal routes in order for the Prohibition Notice to be lifted at the earliest opportunity.

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“We have worked around the clock with the EFL to ensure that Saturday’s game goes ahead in full accordance with the Prohibition Notice. The club notes the criminal offence nature of such a Notice served and the ramifications of a failure to comply.

“Consequently, changes to the way in which the Barnsley game is managed will be in place on Saturday.

“Fundamentally, home supporters will be permitted access to the North Stand, albeit with a small reduction of available seats on the day.

“Access to the North Stand will be from Penistone Road only.

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“Club officials will monitor the number of supporters seated in the North Stand and may require some fans with tickets to be relocated to a different area of the stadium, either the South Stand or Kop. However, we believe this is unlikely to happen as a result of the club taking tickets off sale in the North Stand last Friday.

“Supporters with tickets for the North Stand are advised to enter the ground via the Penistone Road turnstiles as early as possible. Any supporter required to relocate will only be asked to do so should capacity be reached in line with the Prohibition Notice.

“Following the final whistle, additional stewards will be deployed to aid the flow of supporters leaving the stadium as exiting the North Stand via the West Stand/Leppings Lane is prohibited.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused by these measures which are outside of our control and respectfully request your full co-operation to ensure the club complies fully with the Prohibition Notice.

“The club will be making no further comment given any impending court proceedings.”