Leeds United make Elland Road changes after Newcastle United crowd issue as police issue comment

Leeds United have implemented a raft of changes at Elland Road in response to the crowd issues experienced by Newcastle United fans in January.

By Graham Smyth
Monday, 21st March 2022, 4:48 pm
Updated Monday, 21st March 2022, 4:48 pm

Technological issues with the turnstiles 'set off a chain of events' that led to the problems reported by Magpies supporters, many of whom experienced distress and were delayed from entering the ground in time for kick-off.

Newcastle United Supporters Trust have issued a full report after meetings with the LS11 club, West Yorkshire Police and the Football Supporters' Association, including publication of the changes Leeds have made.

A statement from Leeds was included in the report and read: "Overall, we feel that the issues experienced with the turnstiles ultimately set off a chain of events which created further challenges. Whilst none of the turnstiles broke down completely, each of them experienced difficulties and all due to the same issue which was the ticket stubs becoming removed from tickets and placed into the scanners which eventually blocked and needed emptying by an engineer.

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“The turnstiles experienced these difficulties in the 45 minutes before kick-off which is clearly the busiest time which led to intense queues. “Both Leeds United and West Yorkshire Police are committed to working with our officers and stewards respectively to ensure they know exactly how to help supporters should this issue arise in future.”

West Yorkshire Police have acknowledged that their officers could communicate more effectively with supporters and take swifter action to prevent a problematic build-up of fans outside the turnstiles.

A statement they made as part of the NUST Trust said: “The main learning points were for officers to communicate better with the fans waiting at the turnstiles and to try and intervene with the build-up of fans by preventing more people joining the queue, though this was very much a consideration in hindsight as this situation had not occurred before and there was still a belief right up until kick-off that the fans would get through the turnstiles. For the next fixture West Yorkshire Police have significantly increased the use of police liaison teams to enhance communication and have already developed contingency plans with the club to ensure the problem is identified early and the issues are mitigated before a build-up of fans can occur.”

Leeds have come in for praise from NUST for treating supporters with respect in their response to the incident and for taking immediate action to prevent further issues arising.

CROWD ISSUES - Newcastle United fans reported a distressing experience of over-crowding and a delayed entry to the Leeds United game at Elland Road. Pic: Getty

Those changes are as follows:

Double-decker buses need to be scheduled into the coach compound.

Better management system and controlled movement of away fans from the coach compound down to the away turnstiles is required.

Once the away fans have taken from the bus, they need to be held in the coach compound area and pulsed down into the turnstile area in a safe and managed way.

More robust “Disney style” queuing system needs to be implemented and new permanent barriers will be erected outside the turnstiles to avoid fans overcrowding them. An improved temporary measure will be in place for our next fixture.

Paint lines and cross hatchings at the turnstiles showing no go zones to create sterile zones have been implemented.

The away fans bar (Howards Bar) should open from the inside of the ground. Fans will need to scan through the turnstiles to gain access into the bar. The current external entry point into the bar will be an emergency exit only. This change of access will prevent away fans leaving the bar and queueing at the turnstiles in large numbers just before kick-off.

Even though we have never experienced any issues with the perforated ticket stock that we use for the visiting supporters, we have taken the decision to order replacement ticket stock with no perforations, these will be issued to away supporters at our next home fixture.

Plans are underway to upgrade all of our turnstile readers to an alternative model where there is no ‘slot’ to insert match tickets; it will be a screen where the barcode of a ticket is presented.

Full review of the override card functionality and implementation in the event of turnstile issues.

Security measures will be implemented to protect the safety of the SKIDATA engineer in the event that he is called to attend a turnstile.