What Sheffield Wednesday fans and businesses made of new supporter safety measures at Hillsborough

The operator of a Sheffield Wednesday matchday car park says he might not be able to continue running it due to the closure of Penistone Road after games at Hillsborough.

By Sam Cooper
Saturday, 31st August 2019, 6:36 pm
Updated Sunday, 1st September 2019, 7:49 pm

While the new measures seemed to pass without serious incident after the Owls’ 2-1 defeat to Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, a number of supporters and coach drivers said there was confusion surrounding the road closure.

And Dennis Tester, who runs a car park on the plot of land opposite the club shop, said he would have to consider whether it was viable to continue running the site due to a drop in users.

Pensitone Road closure outside Hillsborough following Sheffield Wednesday's game with QPR on August 31, 2019.

Mr Tester, of Park and Donate, said: “I have only got half the number of cars in I would expect to have had in today.

“I’ve had 100 cars on the site and about six coaches. I tried telling everyone about the closure as they were coming in but it was hard to make sure I told everyone.”

Both carriageways of Penistone Road are now closed for up to an hour from 4.30pm on Saturday matchdays after the club agreed the measures with Sheffield Council.

Similar closures will also be in place for midweek kick-offs with a short diversion for motorists and other road users via Herries Road South.

Pensitone Road closure outside Hillsborough following Sheffield Wednesday's game with QPR on August 31, 2019.

Mr Tester said: “I think the problem is two-fold – one is the closure itself and the lack of communication about it.

“The land owners found out on Thursday and I phoned the club to find out exactly what was happening and they directed me to the council but nobody really knew what was happening.

“I saw the site as a bit of an opportunity to invest but this will mean I’ll have to review it all.”

Pensitone Road closure outside Hillsborough following Sheffield Wednesday's game with QPR on August 31, 2019.

The road closure agreement came after a bitter war of words between the club, South Yorkshire Police and Sheffield Council which stemmed from crowd trouble after the Steel City Derby in March.

Worries about fan safety at the match led to a report being commissioned from Manchester Metropolitan University into crowd control at the club’s Hillsborough ground, which recommended that home fans should not be able to exit via the Leppings Lane end and a prohibition notice was served on the club

Fans raised concerns about the restrictions, with many saying that they led to ‘dangerous situations’ with supporters and traffic competing for space on Penistone Road before and after games.

Chris Drury, a season-ticket holder on the North Stand, said: “Anything that improves safety has to be a good thing but the communication has been dreadful and I don't see why it's all necessary for every game. It kicked off at the Steel City derby, when tensions were obviously high.

“I don't get why we need restrictions in place for every home game. The Luton game was particularly bad – they must have only brought about 200 fans and it’s not exactly a rivalry.”

Some home supporter coaches were allowed to park on Penistone Road outside the club shop on Saturday but drivers spoke of confusion about the road closure.

One driver, who was taking a group of supporters back to Thorpe Hesley, said: “You’re telling me I’ve got to wait until 5.30pm to set off? It’s a joke. Nobody told me about it when I parked up.

“This is going to double the amount of time it takes for me to get them back.”

The road closures were enforced by stewards and staff from Event Support Team and South Yorkshire Police officers filmed footage of fans leaving the ground.

One officer said the footage would be used to ‘assess the closure and make any changes as necessary.