As a result, THST contacted the Club with a number of questions, who in turn consulted representatives from Wembley before responding. This is what they told us, and we are passing this information on to fans.
It did add, however, that policing this policy was difficult particularly when colours have been hidden as supporters pass through the turnstiles. On top of that, WNSL says half and half scarves and the similarity between black and white and dark blue and white scarves did not assist in identifying away fans whose shirt colours were covered by coats.
WNSL also outlined its policy once an away supporter has been spotted in a home area of the stadium.
Such supporters will only be asked to leave the venue if it is felt they are antagonising home fans. Stewards will default to monitoring the situation if colours are not visible and the fans are being respectful.
WNSL’s General Manager confirmed a number of away fans were seen throughout the home areas and whilst the vast majority caused no issues, any supporters seen to celebrate Juve’s goals were monitored by a steward and from the control room. Any away supporters who it was believed overstepped the mark, thereby causing public order issues, were dealt with in an appropriate manner.
The stadium’s management says that from a ticketing perspective it was felt this match was not reflective of the other matches played at the venue this season. WNSL highlighted one issue where a group of 30 Juventus supporters had purchased tickets on level five believing the seats to be in the away end only for them to leave pre match fearing for their own safety.
WNSL’s General Manager said: “I am happy to review our current policies in light of what we witnessed last Wednesday, however, it is always a fine balance to manage these situations without it escalating to full disorder and endangering innocent fans. I am truly sorry that a number of THFC fans felt uncomfortable with the close proximity of away fans, but please note we did not simply look the other way, our crowd safety teams all reported in their debrief just how busy they became when the equalising goal went and highlighted the challenges experienced in many areas”.
The Club says from its perspective there is little more it could ask the Wembley Operating team to do.
THFC Stadium Director Jon Babbs told THST the Club had found itself in similar situations whilst at White Hart Lane and while a similar policy was in existence, the Club chose to assess each incident on its own merit.
The Club added on many occasions such assessments resulted in away fans being ejected from the stadium as much for their own safety as for anything else, however, there were times where families or respectful supporters were permitted to remain and the situation was monitored. In all cases there was continued interaction between supporter and steward and an acknowledgement that any antagonism between supporter groups would result in the away supporter being ejected from the stadium.
The Club added season ticket holders and members found to have sold tickets unofficially will be contacted and asked for an explanation. Depending on the reasons given and the outcome of the conversation, the Club will warn, suspend or ban the supporter.
For this game, tickets were sold to members and season ticket holders at a maximum of four tickets per person. The terms of sale made it clear the purchaser is held accountable for the conduct and behaviour of those they buy tickets for and that tickets in home areas are for home supporters only.
Finally, the Club confirmed some of the home areas highlighted as containing away fans comprised seating that had been allocated to UEFA under its own competition rules. The same seats were allocated to UEFA for all previous UCL matches at Wembley with no issues reported. Again anyone found to have sold tickets unofficially will be contacted in due course.
Obviously there will be no more Champions League games at Wembley this season. We will continue to monitor, feed back and advise on crowd management issues in future games.
14 March 2018