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Fulham blame crowd chaos on fans

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Supporters blamed for causing a worrying crush at Fulham before Monday’s Brazil-Ghana friendly have hit back and pinned the blame firmly on the door of the Premier League club. Thousands of people queued outside Craven Cottage to pick up tickets pre-match but the situation soon descended into chaos.

  • Where you at the game? The Football Supporters’ Federation would like to hear from you – read on for contact details.

Fulham blamed this on fans deciding to “stay and party in the streets” rather than enter the stadium but dozens of supporters have – independently of one another – contacted the FSF and painted an entirely different picture. That picture is one of “absolute pandemonium” with only a handful of staff on duty in two Portakabins to distribute thousands of tickets pre-match.
 
“I was there last night and to call it mayhem was an understatement. I’m surprised more people weren’t injured,” said fan Sam Amaning. “Myself and my cousin had tickets in the Johnny Haynes Stand – four members of staff were trying to deal with thousands of people collecting tickets. No queuing system or barriers, no police, not enough staff…it was completely amateurish and dangerous to be honest. The lack of organisation and planning was shocking.”
 
Peter Blake told a similar tale: “The disgrace was the planning, organisation and ineptitude of the Fulham staff regarding ticket collection. Thousands of people – Brazilians, Ghanaians, and British – were being serviced by two small booths to collect pre-paid tickets. There was no order, no queuing system, no security for what the organisers would have known (because they printed the tickets) were a vast crowd of people arriving between 15-45 minutes before kick-off.
 
“As a result, a scrum commenced – crowds were pushing in from all sides. 15 minutes after kick-off, thousands were still outside trying to get tickets. It was a thoroughly dangerous situation – people were raining sweat, bodies were being crushed, others came close to fainting. The whole ordeal was utterly avoidable with prior planning and common sense. Fulham FC and the police should be ashamed of their actions.”
 
Fulham’s head of communications, Sarah Brookes, told the Guardian: “The fundamental problem was that people didn’t want to go into the ground when they arrived at the Cottage. They wanted to stay and party in the streets and that caused congestion, which meant that some people had difficulty picking up their tickets. We had loudhailers appealing for people to go into the ground but they refused.
 
“You can’t physically pick people up and force them to go in. We were a victim of people not wanting to go in to the stadium on time. The flow-rate at 7:30pm was 266-per-minute [into Craven Cottage], whereas for a Premier League game it would be between 500 and 600. That’s why there were only 11,500 people in the ground at kick-off.”
 
Fulham also argued that the “operational level” for the match was identical to that of a Premier League game with the same number of police and stewards. But many fans questioned whether it was sensible to compare a Premier League fixture with a one-off friendly.
 
Season ticket holders visiting Craven Cottage for the hundredth time to head to the same seat in the same stand would reasonably be expected to filter into a ground far, far quicker than thousands of first time visitors who might not have previously visited the ground. And many of those also had to pick up their ticket pre-match at a small Portakabin.
 
The FSF’s Amanda Jacks, said: “If you were involved in this incident, or saw what developed, the FSF wants to hear from you. We are currently compiling witness accounts and will send a report to Fulham FC, the FA, local Safety Advisory Group, Football Licensing Authority, and relevant police officials.
 
“We’ve made it clear to all parties that we’re not after a witch-hunt, compensation, or looking to play the blame game. But we do want full input into any post-match briefing and would like to submit fans’ evidence – it is far from unreasonable to expect answers as to what went wrong and no investigation should take place without supporter involvement.”
 
While Fulham have offered some fans complimentary tickets for a future match by way of an apology, Jacks cautioned fans to think carefully before accepting this offer: “The supporters I’ve spoken with want an investigation first and foremost, an apology, and a full refund rather than a ticket for a future game.”

  • If you witnessed, or were in the middle of, this incident the FSF would like to hear from you. Email Amanda Jacks: amanda.jacks@fsf.org.uk.

Many thanks to Susan Ferguson for the image used in this news item.

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