Sheffield Wednesday appeal against Hillsborough stadium capacity reduction

Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough Stadium
Capacity in the Leppings Lane End, on the left in this picture, has been reduced by 1,000 seats. Credit: PA

Sheffield Wednesday have appealed against a decision to reduce the seat allocation for away fans following complaints of overcrowding.

Sheffield City Council said the capacity in the Leppings Lane End at Hillsborough would be cut by 1,000 after Newcastle United fans raised concerns following their FA Cup third-round defeat to the Owls in January.

A review by the council, overseen by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, found Wednesday had not breached their safety certificate and the number of fans in the Lower and Upper West Stands was below the numbers permitted.

However, the council announced on Monday that the Leppings Lane End would be reduced from 4,700 to 3,700.

It comes almost 34 years after 97 Liverpool fans died as a result of a crush in the Leppings Lane End at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

Wednesday voluntarily offered to reduce the capacity for last month's sold-out League One fixture against Plymouth while the review was being conducted, but are now challenging the council's decision to enact that until the end of the season.

The review was prompted by a post on social media which included an image taken nine minutes before kick-off in the Newcastle game allegedly showing fans "in distress" and inadequate stewarding.

However, evidence from matchday records found no CCTV evidence of problems. The club said the number of stewards was above safety certificate requirements.

Around 50 Newcastle supporters shared their accounts of what happened on the day after the council contacted the Newcastle United Supporters' Trust.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe said the Premier League club fully supported their fans for raising concerns, "especially with the history attached to the stadium".

He added: "With those eyewitness accounts, they should be encouraged to listen to that feedback because it is only the supporters that are living that experience.

"Anything that can help the long-term success and safety of match-day experiences of the supporters is crucial, so we need to gather those findings and try to implement the changes that improves it."

A Wednesday spokesperson said that the club would "continue to liaise with all relevant parties."

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