Sheffield Wednesday issue strongly-worded statement disputing Newcastle United fan overcrowding allegations

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Sheffield Wednesday has said that stewarding and safety measure were more than sufficient for the FA Cup meeting against Newcastle United.

Sheffield Wednesday has disputed the idea that stewarding and safety measures were not in place for the visit of Newcastle United in the FA Cup last weekend.

Magpies fans who attended the match at Hillsborough told stories of overcrowding with one supporter opening up to NewcastleWorld on hearing 'audible screams' from the concourse at halftime.

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In a statement published today, Sheffield Wednesday has stated that stewarding and safety measures not only complied with the Safety Certificate, but exceeded them.

The League 1 club has nonetheless confirmed it is complying with the FA’s request for information.

The full statement published by Sheffield Wednesday today read: "Further to a request from the Football Association on the afternoon of Monday 9 January, Sheffield Wednesday has now submitted its comprehensive observations to the governing body following last weekend’s Emirates FA Cup third round tie with Newcastle United.

"We have engaged in extensive dialogue with all relevant parties to review the circumstances to best assist the FA with their enquiries. Whilst it is inappropriate to outline in full the details of the submission at this time, the Club feels it is important to emphasise that the stewarding numbers in place within the visitors’ section of the stadium exceeded the requirements of the Safety Certificate. The allocation of tickets issued to Newcastle supporters also complied absolutely with the Safety Certificate.

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"In addition, fewer supporters entered the visitors’ turnstiles when aligned to the number of tickets allocated and sold. The turnstiles were opened 30 minutes earlier than a regular matchday, two hours before kick-off at 4:00pm, to allow Newcastle supporters to enter the stadium in as timely a manner as possible.

"There were no reports of injuries or medical assistance required on the West Stand logged with the Club’s first aid Operations Manager before, during and after the game. Whilst we continue to assist and engage with the FA and explore all options, the Club will be making no further comment at this time."

The alleged overcrowding incident happened at the Leppings Lane End, where the Hillsborough tragedy took place (Image: Getty Images)The alleged overcrowding incident happened at the Leppings Lane End, where the Hillsborough tragedy took place (Image: Getty Images)
The alleged overcrowding incident happened at the Leppings Lane End, where the Hillsborough tragedy took place (Image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Earlier this week Newcastle fans shared their experiences in the Leppings Lane End, which is of course where the Hillsborough tragedy of 1989. 37-year-old Magpies supporter Chris said: “The concourse in that away end is unsuitable for 2,000 fans, let alone 4,500. We were like tinned sardines in there and it took me the full 15-minute break just to get through the crowd to the toilet.

"As a fully grown adult, I was not in any great fear for my safety but I’d imagine it would’ve been horrifying for children. I heard several audible screams whilst in the concourse at half-time and the proximity to other individuals was uncomfortable to say the least - barely an inch to spare."

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As fans told their stories online, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central MP Chi Onwurah picked up on stories and acknowledged them with a statement, promising to ask the government to look into what had gone on.

Ms Onwurah said: "34 years from the Hillsborough disaster at the same ground and same end - this is unacceptable. No fan should ever be subject to overcrowding and safety risks when attending a football match.

Kieran Trippier of Newcastle United applauds the fans after the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United at Hillsborough on January 07, 2023 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)Kieran Trippier of Newcastle United applauds the fans after the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United at Hillsborough on January 07, 2023 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Kieran Trippier of Newcastle United applauds the fans after the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United at Hillsborough on January 07, 2023 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

"Today, I will be asking the govt what actions they are taking in light of these events.

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“This happened less than a year after #NUFC fans experienced similar safety issues at Elland Road. At the time, the govt said they were working with SGSA to ensure fan safety, yet this is another incident where fans are facing unacceptable safety risks."

South Yorkshire Police have said: “While no official reports were made to SYP, we have noted the concerns raised and will be seeking a debrief with the club and Safety Advisory Group to discuss this matter further.”

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