London Stadium Safety Advisory Group Meeting - 04/04/2018

Newham Council have released online the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) meeting minutes from the meeting held on 4th April 2018. This meeting followed the emergency SAG meeting held in the wake of the Burnley match on 10th March and the previously intended protest march that was subsequently cancelled by the protest march organisers. The main take away’s from the 4th April Meeting are:

15th March Emergency SAG and Burnley Game Aftermath
•    West Ham United Football Club (WHU) were represented by Tara Warren (Executive Director, Marketing and Communications) and Philippa Cartwright (Projects & Stadium Operations Director)
•    WHU and E20 (stadium operators on behalf of the London Legacy Development Corporation) have commissioned a joint, independent investigation of the Burnley match
•    WHU challenged the figures provided at the 15th March SAG with regards to disorder on the 10th March
•    “Issues arose in relation to the accuracy of the initial Incident Report for Burnley which members discussed further. LBN (London Borough of Newham) informed partners that they are confident in the levels of accuracy presented by LS185 (London Stadium 185 – Vinci) as their Safety Officer is experienced, qualified and has a statutory role. Both LS185 and WHU are moving forward together examining a range of concerns as well as reviewing what happened at Burnley and how to move forward positively.”
•    WHU noted concerns around steward training and the stadium operations manual

WHU vs. Southampton 30th March
•    43,000 attendance
•    SAG discussed working closer together across agencies/bodies to “deal with the small minority of disruptive fans ensuring a better spectator experience for others”
•    “animosity between fans” was discussed as part of a larger discussion on what could affect fans behaviour, including the following:
“a number of opposing supporters groups exist”
That would indicate a competition or conflict which is two sided where none exists from WHUISA’s side.
•    Measures aimed at preventing migration around the stadium by groups of people was discussed and the measures that have now been put in place (for example, under the directors box)
•    “The group was advised that there was a demonstration prior to the Southampton match that was managed by the Metropolitan Police. Fans were able to voice their opinions and went without serious incident”

“Intelligence on forthcoming games”
•    A Met Police (MPS) presence was requested by LS185 for the last four matches of the season at London Stadium
•    Stewarding levels and quality was discussed with LBN requesting LS185 supply them with details relating to Stewards the day before any event at London Stadium
•    WHU confirmed they put a message out to fans not to abuse stewards and to try and humanise the stewards and tell a story about their lives

•    The CCTV system in place at London Stadium was recognised as needing further upgrading from the original system that was installed. 

Banning Orders and the enforcement of them
•    WHU and LS185 confirmed 200 fans were banned during the 2016/17 season for a range of matches but no life time bans issued
•    Ticket touting and reselling of tickets was identified by attendees as being part of an overall issue
•    LBN stated that in their opinion, those serving banning orders trying to enter the London Stadium were just one factor in the disorder at the Burnley Match.
•    Discussions again turned to migration inside the stadium bowl and how that would affect the “P Factor” (physical factor) for the stadium. (Note – Explanation regarding P Factor can be read here - 
•    “LBN informed the group that the stadium have been asked to review their Standard Operating Procedures, specifically the part relating to managing disorder in and outside of the stadium due to recent events”
•    Lou Elliston of  Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) asked why season tickets cannot have peoples photos on the tickets to “prevent transfer of unused tickets” WHU in response said that unused tickets was just fans not coming into the ground
•    SGSA enquired how ticket touts were managing to obtain tickets. MPS responded saying after the Liverpool game in 2017, they had worked hard on dealing with touts and that touting is an industry wide issue
•    “LBN added that football ticket touting is a criminal offence and WH must ensure accountability on ticketing strategy and work with LS185. WHU confirmed that it was normal for season ticket holders to forward their seat to someone else through the forwarding function and the season ticket holder is responsible for that person. WHU ban people using tickets outside this strategy.”
•    “Members discussed the option of photo cards, level numbers on season tickets, potential colour-codes card for different quadrants for ease and speed of seat location by stewards. It was noted that other clubs are also looking into photo cards.”
•    “WH will consider the options and also suggested Biometrics, ticketing on mobile devices, making forwarding tickets easier and smart ticketing. They need to evaluate evidence and understand what would be needed to implement such a procedure.”
•    “LBN reiterated that there was a massive problem with transferability of tickets as some season ticket holders that attend all home games have acknowledged that they never seem to sit next to the same person. This just highlights the issue of not knowing who is in the stadium and must be addressed.”
•    LBN asked WHU to confirm exact season ticket holder numbers
•    “It was suggested that Steve Riley (LS185 consultant) look into biometrics for long term and quadrant colours and levels for short term. WHU confirmed that they will work on the short and long term solution.”
•    MPS suggested timescale for plans to be agreed by the next SSAG. They added that ticketing was more urgent
•    “Members considered and suggested WHU review best practices from other stadiums including family enclosure to limit bad behaviour and persistent standing in the upper tiers.”
•    “LBN added that they would be fully supportive of the photo cards, colour coding and level numbers on all season tickets.”

Persistent Standing
•    “LBN continues to be concerned with the persistent standing in the upper tiers block 215, 216 and 217 due to the rake and height. Steps taken so far need to be more effective in preventing persistent standing. It was suggested that the front three rows be taken out for safety. West Ham has banned some of the ringleaders but this hasn’t stopped the problem. It was stressed that the Council can change the ‘S Factor’ and essentially prohibit the use of those seats and will if it continues as persistent standing breaches the Ground Regulations, FA Regulations and Green Guide recommendations.”
•    With regards to banning orders, “LS185 are working with club on this with 26 bans and others being looked at. When infringement is agreed then the club takes it over and decides length of ban. Life bans issued for pitch runners and those throwing missiles, 26 life bans issued in total.”
•    “Still an ongoing police investigation, when the MPS have completed their investigation the club can then decide what to do regarding those involved. Huge amount of CCTV footage is still being reviewed. SR (LBN) illustrated that dealing with migration and ticketing will make these matters easier to deal with in the future.”

Review of Operations Manual
•    Will be completed by 31st July 2018

•    In relation to the safety certificate for London Stadium, LBN stated “There are a few areas of concern remaining; issues with fire dampers, fire doors, electrical safety and the CCTV. The Stadium is reviewing these matters. Apart from these areas, which are being addressed, the Council is satisfied.”
•    In relation to the make up of the SAG, Newham stated “SR is to re-circulate the terms of reference for the Stadium SAG. The last 2 SAG meetings have had a restricted invite list of core members only. In order to continue to have open and honest discussions and to avoid conversations regarding commercial and contractual issues, only invited members should attend. People who have a knowledge and understanding of public safety and who can discuss safety on behalf of their respective organisations should attend the meetings. SR stressed that the meetings are held primarily to discuss public safety matters”

It is on this last point in particular, WHUISA once again calls for fan representation at the stadium SAG meetings. This in itself is not groundbreaking or revolutionary as for example, Liverpool and Everton fans are represented on their SAG through their Football Supporter Federation (FSF) affiliated groups. There were a number of points raised at the SAG, which are bullet pointed above where WHUISA feels representations could have been made on behalf of fans and the implications if some of the discussions were to be implemented. 

For example, WHUISA would be opposed to the idea of photographic and biometric details being included on season tickets and would have made that point at the meeting, allowing those public and private bodies at the meeting to hear those concerns first hand. Considering supporters are the biggest stakeholders of the stadium when it is being used for West Ham United Football matches, representation on bodies like the SAG should not be discounted.

You can find the minutes in full at the hyperlink below: