Lord Justice Goldring announces the date of the inquest into the 96-victims who lost their lives in the Hillsborough tragedy, 24-years ago. Meanwhile the Football Supporters Federation are lobbying parliament to allow fans to stand in Premier League football grounds.
The families of the 96 victims who lost their lives in the Hillsborough tragedy are getting closer to justice, after Lord Justice Goldring announced the date of the inquest will take place on Monday March 31st 2014. The announcement came at a pre-inquest hearing where it was also confirmed that there will be a jury present on the final day of reckoning.
It was 24-years ago, on April 15th 1989, that thousands of fans were crushed in the Leppings Lane terrace at Hillsborough Stadium, during the F.A. Cup Semi Final confrontation between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. A day that changed the face of British football forever.
The families of the 96 victims have been fighting against the verdict of accidental death since March 1991. The Hillsborough Independent Panel was created to complete a thorough investigation into the incident, and amongst their findings was the news that 41 of those that died could have been saved had medical attention been provided sooner.
Christina Lambert QC, lead counsel to the inquests, wants a wide scope that includes the design of the stadium, police preparation, the organization and movement of fans as well as a look into the emergency services systems. Lord Justice Goldring agreed with Lambert and also ruled that Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights applied in this case.
The deaths led to a complete overhaul of ground safety, in Britain, and today every club in the top two divisions must have all-seater stadia. But that might soon change as the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) are lobbying parliament to change the legislation.
The FSF want areas of stadia to be made available to fans who want to stand, and they are not alone in their fight, with Manchester City, West Ham, Aston Villa, Sunderland, Newcastle, Swansea, Cardiff and Hull also lining up to apply pressure on the government, and the Premier League, after the German Bundesliga successfully trialed seats that can be tilted to allow fans to stand during the game.
The arguments from the FSF and Premier League Clubs are that all-seater stadia reduce the match day experience. Quite why fans cannot cheer, sing and shout when seated on their posterior is beyond me, and I can’t help wonder if this is just a case of old habits die-hard?
Citing the lessons of Leppings Lane is not strong evidence to keep things as they are. Much has changed in the past 24-years and I’m sure the introduction of standing room only can be done safely, but I do think it will change what is currently a very safe and relaxed situation for people wanting to take their families to football games.
I’ve lost count of the number of games I watched as a kid, when all I could see was the back of the guy standing in front of me. The introduction of all seater stadia not only meant that the children could actually watch the game, but the parents could relax knowing that their children were not going to get lost, or crushed, should a ball end up in the top corner.
Removing seats removes families and I for one am not sure that’s a step in the right direction.