Traditionally football stadiums throughout the United Kingdom were made up of terraces whereby fans would go and stand to support their teams. Following on, however, from events during the 1980’s the football terrace was outlawed by law to be replaced by all seater stadiums.
During an FA Cup semi-final match in 1989 contested between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest which has held at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, ninety six Liverpool fans were killed due to overcrowding.
Unlike the Heysel Stadium disaster four years previous the Hillsborough tragedy did not occur due to hooliganism as there was no violence whatsoever between the two sets of supporters. This incident occurred solely due to congestion.
Thousands of the fans who traveled to the game were late due to the traffic and delays to the railways causing many fans to hurriedly enter the stadium at the same time to avoid missing more of the match.
No entrances were sealed off causing many fans to enter into the same area and no larger gates were opened to redirect fans to safer areas.
Following the disaster the Home Office set up an enquiry which was run by Lord Justice Taylor beginning on the 15th May 1989 and lasting 31 days. The remit of the enquiry was as follows:
The Taylor Report recommended that all top division stadiums in England and Scotland phase out the usual concrete terraces and have to become all-seater.
Following from the requirement for all top division stadiums becoming all seater millions of pounds has been spent by every top club in both England and Scotland on developing their grounds.
All seater stadiums have become far safer and easier to manage as all spectators are each sold a ticket for a specific seat.
Furthermore the use of all seater stadiums has resulted in cases of football hooliganism decreasing significantly, meaning that incidents of violence within football grounds have become almost non-existent.
Following on from these arrests for football-related crimes have reduced dramatically since the late 1980’s and attendances have steadily been on the increase.
These positives aside many fans feel that the atmosphere within the stadia has greatly decreased following the elimination of terracing.
During the 1980’s there was not only disasters at football ground due to over congestion on the terracing there was also disasters in relation to hooliganism and other specific issues with the stadia. The Football Spectators Act was brought in to address the issues caused by the Heysel disaster in 1985 and the fire at Bradford City in 1986.
The main provisions of the Football Spectators Act was to bring in the compulsory distribution of identity cards to every football fan attending league and international matches played in England and Wales.
Under this system it would have been possible to identify any known hooligans and prevent them from entering stadiums.
However, this system received poor figures from the football league clubs with only 13 of the 92 football league clubs implementing it by the requisite date.
This has now been repealed by the Football (Offences and Disorder) Act 1999 which introduced the Football Banning Order as a much more effective tool to combat football hooliganism.
Following on from the publication of the Taylor Report there were many issues which have been criticised which are as follows:
In the present day following the Taylor Report we see the following legal conditions which must be adhered to for all football stadiums throughout the country:
The Police were one of the authorities which were widely criticised as part of the Hillsborough disaster and are an integral part of maintaining safety and crowd order in and around a football stadium.
The Police have vast control concerning the safety aspects of football matches and as a consequence will ensure that the two sides from the same city will not both play in the city on the same weekend. For example in Manchester when United play at home City will play away in order to ensure that the match can be properly policed and the resources are not stretched.
Accordingly the police and local authorities have the power to ensure that changes are made to the fixture list in order to achieve this.
Ask your legal question using the box below and have a response from solicitor or barrister within minutes.