The London Stadium Safety Advisory Group have revealed the conclusions of their meeting to discuss the events that occurred during last weekend’s Premier League clash between West Ham United and Burnley on Thursday.
Home supporters, in protest of the way that their club is being run, invaded the playing field no fewer than fours times in the second half of the key clash that the Clarets took home the three points from thanks to Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood.
A small group of fans also gathered on the concourse below the Director’s Box to chant up at Joint-Chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan, some of them throwing missiles up into the seated area.
In a statement which was released on Thursday evening and forwarded by West Ham’s Official Website, WHUFC.com, “SAG” revealed the action that they recommended is taken to prevent similar events from happening in the future.
“The London Stadium Safety Advisory Group met today and found that a small minority of spectators from within a very large crowd caused an unprecedented level of disorder at multiple locations across the stadium, which would have been almost impossible for any security team to manage.
“Whilst some issues in the security regime were identified it is recognised that the operation were stretched significantly by the scale and volume of incidents and stopped most attempted pitch incursions successfully.
“In response, a series of measures will be introduced for the next fixture including: increased stewarding, enhanced pitch security and a significantly larger police presence.
“A spokesperson on behalf of the London Safety Advisory Group, said: “The Safety Advisory Group for London Stadium has today met to discuss the serious disorder last weekend”.
“The Safety Advisory Group (SAG) recognises discontent among fans cannot be allowed to compromise the safety and wellbeing of the majority of spectators at the stadium.
“The SAG has been working closely with London Stadium 185 (LS185), E20 and West Ham United to understand the sequence of events leading to the disorder. We have instructed the stadium operators to make changes to prevent a repetition.
“The SAG has seen evidence that the level of disorder would have been difficult for any safety management team to contain. Following today’s meeting the SAG is reassured that safety is LS185’s top priority.
“The SAG has made specific requests to the stadium operators for the next fixture including:
- Police will be present inside and outside the stadium
- Bolstering the response teams
- Restricting access to the area in front of the directors’ box
- A review of spectator movement around the stadium
“In addition, LS185 and West Ham United have made great strides in identifying the trouble makers and have been very clear that those guilty of violent or aggravating conduct will be banned from the stadium. It is anticipated these stadium bans will be in place for the next home fixture against Southampton on 31 March.
“The SAG acts as the advisory body to Newham Council in its safety certifying role. Following reassurances that have been given, it is the SAG’s view that the council does not need to use the ultimate sanction, which would see capacity reduced at the venue and spectators excluded. The remaining homes games will be closely monitored.
“The SAG must make clear that in the event of future disorder, it would seriously consider advising the certifying authority to take forward this sanction. Playing behind closed doors would be a great shame for the majority of fans who wish to watch and support their team in safety.”
The statement comes a day after the club released their own, updating fans on their investigations into the incidents and similarly promising life bans to anyone caught on CCTV encroaching onto the playing surface or throwing missiles, some of which were coins.
The Football Association, FA, are still yet to release the findings of their own investigation and the punishment that they will deal the Hammers for the behaviour of their supporters, this is expected to be known by the end of the month.
The club will reportedly be handed a hefty fine by the governing body, with a reduction of the current football capacity of the stadium (57,000) or a points deduction more unlikely options.
Although it hasn’t been advised by the SAG at this stage, the possibility of David Moyes’ side being forced to play their five remaining home Premier league matches behind closed doors has not been shut down yet according to reports.
The aforementioned five London Stadium clashes will prove detrimental in the East Londoners’ bid to stay in the English Top-Flight for another season, they currently 16th in the table with nine outings left.
At the end of the month, the Saints, under new boss Mark Hughes, will visit Stratford to play out a relegation six-pointer, this comes after a three-week break in which they have flown to Miami, Florida for warm weather training and will travel to National League outfit Dagenham & Redbridge in a fundraising friendly.