Board Meeting 155 - July 2009

Minutes of the hundred and fifty fifth meeting of the Football Licensing Authority held on 7 July 2009 at Harcourt House, London

Present

Mr P Darling - Chairman
Mr B Batson
Dr J Dickie
Ms J Summerell
Mr J Woodrow
Mr J R K de Quidt     - Chief Executive

In attendance

Mr K D Sears
Mrs N A Rutherford

1

Minutes of the previous meeting

1.1

The minutes of the hundred and fifty fourth meeting were agreed and signed by the Chairman.

   

2

Matters arising

2.1

No items were raised.

 

 

3

Chief Executive’s reports (FLA(09)10 & (09)12)

3.1

The Chief Executive summarised the salient points from the two reports:

  • The Chairman would meet with the Football Supporters Federation to discuss issues that it had raised.

 

  • Safety certification – DCMS was not yet in a position to launch a public consultation on this issue.
  • ACPO was expected to announce its policy on police charges at its annual seminar for ground commanders in late July.  The Chief Executive would be present and would report back to the Board at its next meeting. The FLA was encouraging DCMS and the Home Office to prepare a joint line on the issue before the ACPO meeting.

 

  • New board members- the Minister has appointed 4 new Board members.  A full induction course would be undertaken.  It was hoped that they would attend the joint meeting in September.

 

 

4

Annual Report and Accounts 2009 (FLA(09)11)

4.1

The Chairman of the Audit Committee reported that the committee had considered the annual report and accounts for 2008.  The Committee had recommended that the Board approve the document.  The Board approved the annual report and accounts

 

 

5

Licensing of standing accommodation (FLA(09)13)

5.1

The Board was reminded that in June 1998 the FLA had written to all clubs in the then Second and Third Divisions of the Football League advising that in considering whether to licence the use of each individual terrace after 1999 the FLA would have regard to the following criteria:

  • all crush barriers should be continuous between radial gangways (as is now described in paragraph 11.8 and Diagram 11.3 of the latest edition of the Green Guide);

 

  • all points from which spectators might view the match should be within 12 metres of a gangway or exit along a line of unobstructed travel;
  • the spacing, strength and construction of all crush barriers should  conform with what is now set out paragraph 11.2 and Table 11.2 of the Green Guide; and

 

  • the height and positioning of all the crush barriers should accord with what is now paragraph 11.10 and Diagram 11.4 of the Green Guide.

 
That letter also advised that it should be assumed that level standing areas or non-stepped sloping areas would not form part of the viewing accommodation that would be licensed for spectator use. 

The Board was invited to consider the licence applications from Accrington Stanley, Bristol Rovers, Cheltenham Town, Hereford United, Torquay United and Wycombe Wanderers. Each ground had an area or areas of terracing which appeared not to meet the above criteria.

 

 

5.1.1

Accrington Stanley:  There was one area of non-compliant terracing located in the Whinney Hill Stand.  The local authority had set a zero capacity for the area for a reason unconnected with the licensing requirements. The Board, on the evidence before them, was minded to issue a licence which would permit the admission of spectators to all parts of the ground with the exception of the terraced area of the Whinney Hill Stand.

 

 

5.1.2

Bristol Rovers: the front of the Blackthorn and Upland Terraces were level areas which appear to have been originally designed as lateral gangways but were now being used as spectator viewing accommodation. Similarly a level area at the rear of the Uplands Terrace was also now being used as viewing accommodation.  The extent to which any of these areas have been included within the certified capacity of the ground was unclear as the local authority had been unable to access the capacity calculations.

In granting licences in previous years the FLA Board had been unaware that these areas were being used as spectator viewing accommodation. 

The Board considered it would be unreasonable at this late stage to exclude these areas of the ground and was minded to issue a licence for the whole ground.  However, the Board wished the local inspector to liaise with the club and local authority to clarify if the  lateral gangways had been included within the capacity calculations and if so why,  how the capacity of the areas had been calculated and what account had been taken of the effect of standing in lateral gangways. The Board also asked that it be made clear to the club that any future licence applications which sought to include the continued use of any of these level standing areas would need to be supported by a case explaining why the required standards should be relaxed at the Memorial Stadium.

 

 

5.1.3

Cheltenham Town –The front of the Tunnel Enclosure and the Paddock were level standing areas which appear to have been originally designed as lateral gangways.   Adjacent to these areas was the Canteen area which also appeared to be a level standing area.  In granting licences in previous years the FLA Board had been unaware that these areas were being used as spectator viewing accommodation. 

The Board considered it would be unreasonable at this late stage to exclude these areas of the ground and were minded to issue a licence for the whole ground. However the Board wished the local inspector to discuss with the club and the local authority the continued use of these areas.  The Board also asked that it be made clear that any future licence applications which sought to include the continued use of any of these level standing areas would need to be supported by a case explaining why the required standards should be relaxed at Whaddon Road.

 

 

5.1.4

Hereford United – The club had been promoted from the Football Conference at the end of the 2005/06 season. In line with FLA policy the club had been given three seasons to bring its terraces up to the prescribed standard. However three areas, the Blackfriars Terrace, the Merton Terrace, and the Len Watson Terrace, remained non-compliant. As a result of recent tests of the crush barriers on all three terraces the local authority had set a zero capacity for the Blackfriars Terrace. The Board considered the case for licensing the two remaining areas, the Merton Terrace and Len Watson Terrace.  

Taking into account the information before the Board, it was minded to allow the club a further 6 months to bring the standing accommodation on the Merton Terrace and Len Watson Terrace to required standard.  Any areas of non-compliant terracing remaining at the end of January 2010 would not be licensed and the club would be required to take them out of use.

The Board confirmed that it would not grant the club’s request that the level area at the front of the Merton Terrace should be licensed as viewing accommodation.

 

 

5.1.5

Torquay United - The local authority had applied a zero capacity to the area in front of the Main Stand known as ‘No Man’s Land’ and thus did not form part of the licence application.  The Board considered the information on the area known as the Paddock – Homelands End which appeared to include an area of level standing between the crush barrier and the first terrace step. It was acknowledged that when the club was last in the Football League the area in question had been licensed.  On the evidence available the Board was minded to issue Torquay United with a licence which would permit the admission of spectators to all parts with the exception of the terraced area in front of the Main Stand. However, if evidence was provided that the pitch perimeter barrier was of the appropriate strength the Board would be content for the licence to include this area. It was stressed however that confirmation should be sought from the local authority that the certified capacity for this area had been calculated on the basis of the number of spectators which could reasonably accommodated on the terraced steps.

 

 

5.1.6

Wycombe Wanderers – the front of the West Terrace was a level area which had been designed as lateral gangway. Although the area was not included in the certified capacity and thus not covered by the licence, the area was used by children.  The Board considered that it would be unreasonable specifically to exclude this area from the licence especially at this late stage.  Indeed such an approach could appear heavy handed.   However it wished the local inspector formally to remind the SAG that this decision had been reached on the strength of the zero capacity set by the local authority and the profile of the spectators using the level standing.  Any alterations to either factor might affect future licence considerations by the FLA. 

 

 

5.2

The applications in respect of the 88 remaining clubs were approved and signed.

 

 

6

Date of the next meeting

6.1

The next meeting would be held on the morning of Monday 7th September at West Bromwich Albion FC.  Further details would be circulated nearer the time.

FLA Secretariat - July 2009