Were FA also negligent over Hillsborough?

Finally, after 27 years of horror, heartbreak and struggle, the families of 96 Liverpool football fans in the 1989 Hillsborough stadium crush have seen a jury deliver the verdict they and all those who suffered and survived but found themselves targets of South Yorkshire police’s ferocious campaign required. There is, however, no mention of the Football Association in the verdicts.

It's quite right most of the focus is put on the police.

The families were people mostly trusting of the police, who after their horrific loss found themselves in a nightmare, fighting the police’s false case and repeated letdowns by the legal system. Derided and denigrated as “animalistic”, they were ultimately driven on by the power of human love and loyalty, and the bonds of family.

They said the police, who at first blamed the tragedy on the supporters themselves, had told lies and staged a cover-up of "industrial proportions" to hide their mistakes in managing the crowd surging into the stadium.  It was one of the world's worst stadium disasters.

The jury also concluded:
◾Police errors caused a dangerous situation at the turnstiles
◾Failures by commanding officers caused a crush on the terraces
◾There were mistakes in the police control box over the order to open the Leppings Lane end exit gates
◾Defects at the stadium, including calculations over crowd capacity, contributed to the disaster
◾There was an error in the safety certification of the Hillsborough stadium
◾South Yorkshire Police (SYP) and South Yorkshire Ambulance Service (SYAS) delayed declaring a major incident
◾The emergency response was therefore delayed
◾Sheffield Wednesday failed to approve the plans for dedicated turnstiles for each pen
◾There was inadequate signage at the club and misleading information on match tickets
◾Club officials should have requested a delay in kick off as they were aware of a huge number of fans outside shortly before the game was due to start

The state Crown Prosecution Service says it is considering whether criminal charges should be brought against individuals or any corporate body. An independent police watchdog is also investigating.

The tragedy changed the face of English football. Banks of terracing and metal fences around pitches disappeared, replaced by modern, all-seated venues and better security.

Yet one body seems to have escaped from all the blame and they should take their fair share. The Football Association.

The FA Cup is their tournament. Sheffield Wednesday a club that fall under their jurisdiction yet no one is pointing the finger at them to say that their semi-final was held at a stadium patently not fit for purpose.

If the stadium safety certificate was flawed surely they should have known because you'd expect these things to be checked out. The FA should have been involved in some sort of event planning that would have had a disaster element.

1989 was such a different world to 2016, especially at football games but I for one cannot believe that the FA were not negligent in the standard of care afforded to fans entering the stadium. They would also have had the example of the Heysel disaster, albeit a different set of circumstances, to guide them as to what can go wrong at a stadium. In 2016 they would be the subject of heavy litigation.

The only thing I can think of is that even after two year of an Inquiry the remit did not ask the questions of the FA. Lucky FA.

Tunde Coker

 

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