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Hillsborough survivor calls for Leppings Lane to be ‘knocked down’ after Newcastle complaints in 2023

Peter Scarfe from the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance has called for the Leppings Lane to be “knocked down and rebuilt”.

Newcastle United fans raised safety concerns about the end in their FA Cup third-round match against Sheffield Wednesday in January 2023.

Newcastle fans report safety issues in Leppings Lane

Before their FA Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday, some Newcastle fans were forced to rip netting from their seats to make space in a crowded away end.

This event was described as a “near miss” by Sheffield authorities. In fact, the incident led to a review of the Leppings Lane end by Sheffield Wednesday with Sheffield City Council, who recommended increased CCTV and stewarding.

Also, a reduction of the capacity in the end was recommended, which has now been put in place. The upper tier of the Leppings Lane has been reduced from 3,200 to 2,400 and the lower tier from 1,500 to 1,300.

Leppings Lane capacity reduced
The capacity of the Leppings Lane end was reduced following a “near miss” in the Sheffield Wednesday-Newcastle United FA Cup tie in January 2023 – Photo by Icon Sport

Sheffield City Council’s sports grounds and events lead officer Matt Proctor said in a meeting: “The initial concerns were raised by a journalist’s photograph and we actually reached out to Newcastle United supporters to give their insight into exactly what their actual concerns were about being at that particular end of that particular stadium.

“When we received responses from Newcastle supporters they raised different issues to the issues raised by the journalist and we carried out a full investigation.

“We classed it as a near miss and alterations have been made to the operation of that particular stadium as a result of the feedback.”

Hillsborough survivor calls for changes to Leppings Lane

In the 1989 FA Cup semi-final, 97 Liverpool fans were unlawfully killed in the Leppings Lane end.

Scarfe told George Simms of the i, “Realistically that end needs to be knocked down and rebuilt. It’s a very old stadium, it’s not very well designed, it suited its purpose 100-odd years ago but now it doesn’t align with safety. It needs to be changed.

“We tend to go back to Hillsborough quite often, part of the therapy and healing. The stadium hasn’t changed a great deal, it’s still quite a daunting-looking place. It’s still a dangerous stadium, it doesn’t matter whether you reduce it by 50 per cent, it still needs to be policed in the right manner.”

He continued: “The Leppings Lane end is so dated and poorly marked. It bottlenecks, it’s on the corner between the river and terraced houses.

“It’s not the most accessible area, and then once you go through those turnstiles, there’s no direction to go left, right or down the tunnel. You know the term ‘tunnel vision’, that’s what you see in front of you so that’s where you go.

“They have done a few modifications, but not enough, when you hear the announcement that they’ve put extra CCTV in and they’re going to speak to extra stewards, it’s still not enough.”


Will Murray

Freelance football journalist. Experience writing for When Saturday, Comes, Goalkeeper.com, Elite Scholars and Total Football Analysis. Recently finished an MA in Sport Journalism at the University of Brighton. Long-time season ticket holder at the two-time European Champions Nottingham Forest.

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