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Sheffield Wednesday handed Hillsborough supporter safety management order

Police admit club proposals to address concerns arrive just hours before tomorrow’s match

Police have spoken of being “committed to safety” in talks with Sheffield Wednesday football club after it was ordered to make changes to how it manages supporters outside the Leppings Lane end – where the Hillsborough disaster unfolded in 1989.

Just hours before the joint Championship leaders play their first home game of the 2019-20 season, the club has been served with a prohibition notice.

It prevents home fans being released from the north and south stands onto the Leppings Lane forecourt at the west end of the stadium.

Problems at that end of the ground, which is where away supporters leave the stadium, led to the Hillsborough tragedy which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans 30 years ago.

Concerns were raised following crowd trouble at the Steel City Derby between Wednesday and Sheffield United in March this year.

Sheffield City Council said it has been liaising with the club and South Yorkshire Police, and the move has been made ahead of another local derby on Saturday, when Barnsley are due at the infamous Yorkshire stadium.

Steve Lonnia, chairman of the council's Safety Advisory Group SAG, said: "Following the submission of a report commissioned by South Yorkshire Police that highlighted issues with regards to public safety on the Leppings Lane forecourt at Hillsborough Stadium, the council and members of the group have worked very closely with Sheffield Wednesday to resolve these issues.

"As the certifying authority, public safety is of paramount importance and it is our duty to act on matters that pose a risk to the public.

“Due to the evidence presented in the report, we immediately requested that the club submit proposals to deal with the issues raised.

"A prohibition notice has been served that means there will be no access or egress from the North and South Stands on to the Leppings Lane forecourt for home supporters.

"Throughout this process we have worked together with Sheffield Wednesday to find a safe and acceptable solution to these issues and they have now submitted proposals in an attempt to address them.

“As the certifying authority we will now assess these with the other members of the Safety Advisory Group."

South Yorkshire Police said in a statement on Friday: "We received the proposals from the club to address the concerns ahead of tomorrow's match, at 10am this morning.

“We will work in partnership, in the time now available, to seek a positive outcome but our priority will always remain public safety.

"Following the last Sheffield derby, South Yorkshire Police listened to feedback from supporters, the SYP Football Independent Advisory Group and commissioned an independent analysis of crowd safety at the stadium.

"The report was provided to the club on June 27, 2019 and since then, and going forward, we remain committed to working with the club, the SAG and all partners to ensure the safety of everyone attending matches at Sheffield Wednesday."

Ninety-six Liverpool fans died following the crush in the central pens of the Leppings Lane terrace at the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989, after exit gates to the ground were opened to relieve a build-up of crowds outside.

A jury was discharged in April following a 10-week trial when members failed to reach a verdict after deliberating for more than 29 hours on gross negligence manslaughter charges relating to Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield.

The retired South Yorkshire chief superintendent now faces a second trial on October 7 over the deaths of 95 Liverpool fans more than 30 years ago.

Jurors at Preston Crown Court found ex-Sheffield Wednesday safety officer Graham Mackrell guilty of failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act in respect of ensuring there were enough turnstiles to prevent unduly large crowds building up outside the ground – the first conviction in three decades since the disaster.

The court heard Mackrell's offence did not directly cause the disaster and resulting loss of life inside the ground but was responsible for at least one of the direct causes of the crush at the turnstiles outside the stadium.

Mackrell, who stood trial alongside Mr Duckenfield, was ordered to pay a total of £11,500 in fines and costs

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