Sports Grounds Safety Authority ‘concerned’ by Hillsborough overcrowding reports

The UK Government’s advisor on safety at sports grounds is “concerned” by reports of overcrowding at Hillsborough during Sheffield Wednesday’s FA Cup third-round tie against Newcastle last weekend.

A number of fans in the away end alleged there were congestion issues around the exit to the tunnel in the Leppings Lane End ahead of the Saturday teatime kick-off.

There were also reports of fans ripping out security screening to give themselves more room.

The Sports Grounds Safety Authority on Tuesday announced its intention to review the incident alongside the League One club and local city officials in an attempt to ensure secure surroundings for fans.

A spokesperson for the SGSA said: “We are concerned by reports of overcrowding and crushing at the FA Cup tie between Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United at Hillsborough Stadium on Saturday evening.

“The SGSA is now working with the club, Sheffield City Council and the Safety Advisory Group to review the event, learn any lessons and ensure a safe environment for football fans.”

The PA news agency has approached Sheffield Wednesday for comment.

Peter Scarfe, who was at Hillsborough in 1989 when 97 Liverpool fans died and now runs the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance, feels Saturday’s scenes showed there remain problems and that lessons have not been learned.

Scarfe told PA: “Grounds now are about standing and rail seating and you kind of think this wouldn’t happen any more but it seems to in Sheffield.

“It is a disaster waiting to happen. Nearly 34 years of experience and research and mistakes to learn from and they just obviously haven’t.

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“It’s history repeating itself isn’t it? Lessons obviously haven’t been learned.”

The Football Association is to speak to officials from both clubs about the incident.

Fans claimed on social media there was a lack of stewarding before the game and that they were crammed in.

The Newcastle United Supporters Trust has also appealed for information.