Sheffield United: Delayed fans are owed an apology, says a leading figure at the Football Supporters’ Federation

Sheffield United won the derby at Hillsborough 4-2: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Sheffield United won the derby at Hillsborough 4-2: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Amanda Jacks, the Football Supporters’ Federation’s director of casework, says Sheffield United fans who were forced to miss the start of last month’s Steel City derby deserve an apology.

Hundreds of away followers found themselves locked-out of Hillsborough for much of the first-half when crowd control measures were seemingly exacerbated by congestion at the turnstiles.

Jacks, who has received complaints from many of those affected, told The Star that the lack of clarity and contrition from those responsible for causing the delay was disappointing.

“It’s unfortunate that nearly a month after the Steel City derby, not only have those Sheffield United supporters who missed the majority of the first half of the game due to, apparently, circumstances entirely outside of their control, seemingly not only not received a clear explanation as to why this happened,” she said, “Nobody has said a simple ‘sorry’ to them either.”

Jacks has requested a meeting with South Yorkshire Police to ensure a more positive experience for both United and Sheffield Wednesday fans when the two clubs meet at Bramall Lane on January 13. United won the first derby for five-and-a-half years 4-2 thanks to goals from John Fleck, Mark Duffy and Leon Clarke (2). But the away end was still a third empty long after Clarke had fired Chris Wilder’s side into a 2-0 lead following Fleck’s opener.

Footage has appeared on social media of United supporters, whose behaviour was described as exemplary by Wednesday, pleading with stewards to allow them entry while the match was being played. It remains unclear exactly why and how the situation was allowed to develop with many of those affected paying over £40 for a ticket.

“I missed both goals on the way to the ground and when we got there, they only had two turnstiles open,” one fan involved told this newspaper. “When we questioned the steward why they only had the two open, he said: ‘We were never informed that you were coming.’”

However, both SYP and Wednesday have denied this was the case, with the latter issuing a statement saying: “We were informed that a significant number of visiting supporters would be arriving late at the stadium given the emergency button on a nearby Supertram had been activated.

“In line with all fixtures, the respective number of open turnstiles was governed by the expected number of supporters, so as soon as we were made aware of the delay, additional turnstiles were opened.”

“There was not a single reporting of any kind of threatening incident upon their arrival,” the statement added. “Indeed, the conduct of the delayed supporters was excellent.”

Many Sheffield United fans missed much of the first-half: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Many Sheffield United fans missed much of the first-half: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Meanwhile, United, who play host to Reading today, have brought forward their home game against Bristol City to Friday 8 December after the fixture, which had been scheduled for Saturday 9 December, was selected for live television broadcast.

Many away supporters were able to gain entry: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Many away supporters were able to gain entry: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

But others did not until nearly half-time: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

But others did not until nearly half-time: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Amanda Jacks thinks those who were delayed deserve an explanation: Joe Perch/Sportimage

Amanda Jacks thinks those who were delayed deserve an explanation: Joe Perch/Sportimage