THST has been busy dealing with numerous cases arising from incidents at Chelsea away, Swansea City away and the Newcastle United League Cup quarter final. This is a brief update on that work. We'd like to thank all those supporters who contacted us with information.
Tottenham fans experienced significant problems in a dangerous crush that built up outside the ground before the game.
We compiled an extensive dossier detailing every complaint we received, with names removed, and sent this to Chelsea FC, The FA, The Premier League, the Metropolitan Police, Hammersmith and Fulham Safety Advisory Group and the Sports Ground Safety Authority asking for a response to the specific points raised and ideas about how such situations could be avoided in future. We also copied in the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust and we are grateful for their help.
We have received responses from the FA and CFC. Those responses are, in our view, totally inadequate. The FA response does little more than give a bland assurance that such an incident will not occur again, while the response from Chelsea denies there were any problems while at the same time blaming the late arrival of fans for problems.
We have responded, expressing our disappointment, challenging the assertions made, and suggesting that formal fan involvement in planning and Safety Advisory Groups should be pursued.
We have also expressed surprise that not a single attempt has been made by either CFC or the FA to contact any of the individuals who submitted complaints.
We've also pointed out that proper co-operation between fan groups and the football authorities on Merseyside following incidents at least year's Merseyside derby at Anfield has been met with widespread approval, and could be used as a template for future action.
We will continue to pursue this case, and to challenge football's 'blame the fans' culture.
Swansea Away – 14 December
We were contacted by two supporters who were propelled over the barriers and onto the pitch in the wake of Tottenham's late winner in this game. They were arrested and faced potential membership bans. We investigated the case and, after making representations to the Club, are pleased to report one of the memberships has been re-instated. We await a decision on the second.
We recognise that going onto the field of play is an offence, but also that each instance needs to be dealt with on its own merits. In both of these cases, supporters found themselves on the pitch despite their best efforts to stay off, and we are glad common sense has prevailed so far.
Newcastle United, League Cup – 17 December
We are aware that Newcastle United fans experienced significant problems entering White Hart Lane for the League Cup quarter final tie last night and are, of course, concerned when any set of supporters experience problems entering a football ground.
We have been in touch with THFC and with the FSF.
We understand from THFC that problems began when a smoke bomb was let off at 19:19hrs in the South Upper concourse by a Newcastle United supporter who has subsequently been arrested. The smoke bomb triggered the fire alarms, and the incident itself triggered an official "Emergency Situation". This meant that all turnstiles were closed to prevent access to an area that could be unsafe.
The Fire Brigade were called automatically once the fire alarms were set off. They investigated and declared an all-clear at 19:34hrs, when the turnstiles were re-opened.
The Club confirmed that the visitors section at White Hart Lane is served by eight turnstiles, four for the lower tier and four for the upper tier. All turnstiles were open and functional, except for the duration of the alarm and investigation.
The Club tell us announcements were made through the external public address system advising that turnstiles were open and tickets were being checked, with searches suspended at 19:39hrs in order that fans could enter the stadium as quickly as possible.
We are also receiving information that not all the fans outside were aware of these announcements, so we are continuing to work with the Club and supporter reps to find out more, and to see if improvements can be made in future.
We will continue to work constructively with all parties on this matter.