Minutes of Brent Council Safety Advisory Group (SAG) also recorded discussions which led to the delays in tickets for the match going on sale with a match date and kick off time not set for a number of weeks.
We accept that the public safety ‘risk’ of staging a football match is often the subject of media hype, but there are basic logistical concerns that must take precedence over commercial interest. The fact that there seems to have been a debate over which should take precedence is cause for concern.
- How was the decision made? For example - did the broadcaster make the request and Brent SAG was a party that agreed the game could be moved?
- What is the usual process for Brent SAG when games are moved for broadcast – what is its role and what are its priorities? How involved does it usually get?
- Why is there currently a delay confirming the game and kick off time? Both Clubs are currently unable to sell tickets for this match (as of 15 November) as parties including Brent SAG discuss potential issues with the game going ahead on New Year’s Eve. What is your understanding and involvement of the current issue and delay?
- Did Brent SAG have or raise any concerns when the football match was initially moved from 3pm on 30 Dec to 14.15 on 31 Dec?
- Can any minutes from any meetings regarding this matter and football match (Tottenham versus West Ham at Wembley) be provided?
Similar questions were submitted to the Met but the force is yet to respond. We will update our members when a response has been received.
The SAG said: “Brent Council received a request by email from Wembley National Stadium Ltd (WNSL) that the Broadcaster and the Premier League would like to reschedule the Premier League match between THFC and WHUFC from Saturday 30 December 2017 to Sunday 31 December 2017 at 17.00 hours. As the Certifying Authority and Chair of the Safety Advisory Group for WNSL, it is right and proper that the stadium seeks our permission to reschedule the match.
“The protocol is for the Stadium to apply to the Chair of the SAG who then consults the members of the SAG giving a deadline for their agreement or objection to the request. The purpose of the SAG is to advise the Stadium and the Council on measures they should take to ensure the safety of spectators attending events at the stadium. The Chair of the SAG informs the Stadium of the SAG members’ collective decision.
“Several aspects of safety as well as transportation of spectators to and from the stadium were taken into account. This involved detailed investigations, assessments and calculations by the key SAG Members, especially the Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police and the public transport providers, which inevitably took a long time to agree. This was followed by a protracted round of discussions between the stadium, the Premier League and the broadcaster.
“Several SAG Members expressed concerns about the proposed rescheduling of the match to New Year’s Eve because of the strain that would put on the emergency services and the public transport providers who had already planned their operations for the transportation of thousands of people to the various New Year’s Eve celebrations in Central London. On 1 December 2017, the Stadium informed the Chair of the SAG that the Premier League would like to reschedule the match to 4 January 2018. The Chair consulted the SAG Members, none of whom objected. The Chair informed the Stadium that the SAG made no objection to this proposal. He stated that there was a very strong wish to have this matter settled, and a public announcement to that effect would be welcomed. The Premier League later decided to reschedule the match to Thursday 4 January 2018 at 20.00 hours.”
Sadly, the council refused to release further information on discussions held by phone call and email, adding: “Discussions were held both via the telephone and email. Much of this centered on the operational planning of the various SAG members and this information is exempt under Section 16 of the FOIA.”
THST will appeal against this decision and will request that emails between the various parties are made available.
According to minutes of Brent Council’s Safety Advisory Group, also obtained by THST, both Brent’s SAG and WSAG raised concerns when the Premier League and Sky Sports made stakeholders aware of the proposal to move the game to New Year’s Eve.
It was confirmed the Premier League had discussed moving the game with a number of agencies. As of Tuesday 7 November, the British Transport Police had agreed to support the game while discussions with London Underground were continuing.
Further discussions at that point had considered a capacity cap of 60,000 (this was later dropped to 43,000 as previously reported by THST) and a 14.15 kick-off. Chiltern Railways confirmed it would have difficulty supporting an event on New Year’s Eve.
Discussions continued between WSAG and WNSL, with the latter confirming if the former objected to the date, the stadium would not host the game on 31 December.
However, WNSL stated it was aware the Premier League was working hard to persuade stakeholders to support the proposed fixture change.
London Underground would be operating a Sunday service on 31 December so would struggle to provide an event day operation at Wembley Park and other stations. The Metropolitan Police and BTP would then face further issues if there were problems with London Underground staffing with Wembley Park, Baker Street, Kings Cross, Liverpool as well as Wembley Park station affected.
The minutes can be read in full in the attached pdf. We have requested further information under the act, as have our colleagues at the West Ham United Independent Supporters Association, and we will publish the responses as soon as we can.
Read the FOI responses in full here: