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Green Street crowd congestion: no “shrugging of shoulders” from authorities

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

Crowd congestion and disorder marred the build up to West Ham United’s final game at Upton Park. The Met have now released a report on the incident and FSF caseworker Amanda Jacks tells us more…

Having followed events online, in particular a 30 minute periscope film taken immediately outside the Boleyn, including capturing the arrival of the Manchester United team bus, it was clear that a dangerous situation had built up over the afternoon and into the early evening.

While being caught up in the crush was obviously an unpleasant experience for many, thankfully nobody sustained any injuries.

Nonetheless, it seemed that there were questions to answer about the crowd management, or rather lack of it, at the momentous last game at the Boleyn.

I contacted the football unit at the Met police, with whom I have a good working relationship with, and they kindly agreed to convene a meeting with the Chair of Newhams Safety Advisory Group and Ron Pearce, the then safety officer.

All parties were clear that this wasn’t to be a blame game or exercise in finger pointing rather an opportunity to discuss events on of May 10th.

Thankfully there was no suggestion of “what’s the point, it was the last game” and further it was felt that (not that this will trouble many West Ham fans!) lessons could inform planning when Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea play their own last games at their current stadiums.  

Suffice to say a full, frank and amicable discussion was had with no avoidance from the key points that the flow of supporters onto Green Street could and should have been managed so as to avoid the crushing.

There was no shrugging of shoulders or events being chalked up as “just one of those things”.

Chief Supt Colin Morgan asked some key and probing questions of both his colleagues and Newham Council and my concerns around the pre-planning concentrating on avoiding public disorder at the expense of public safety were taken seriously and addressed.

I’m very happy with the public report & conclusions, not least a commitment of more meaningful dialogue with supporters from Newham Council and the Met being prepared to, arguably, put their heads above the parapet and publicly say intelligence taken from forums is properly evaluated and not taken at face value. For that I think they deserve full credit.

Finally, and digressing slightly, I can’t have been the only one disappointed with media narrative that developed around events pre-game.  I don’t for one second condone the behaviour of those who threw missiles at the Manchester United team coach but the suggestion that the kick of was delayed because of that and not despite it was while not reporting the wider context was disappointing to say the least”.

As always, we’re here to help and advise supporters who have cause to complain and can offer initial free of charge legal advice in the event of serious matters or if they’ve been arrested or charged with a football related offence. 

Watching Football Is Not A Crime! is part of the FSF’s ongoing drive to monitor the police in their dealings with football fans and work with them to ensure that all fans are treated fairly and within the law. You can contact FSF Caseworker Amanda Jacks via:
Thanks to Action Images for the picture used in this blog.

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