Chief Executive on stewarding issue at Birmingham City fixture
I want to concentrate my notes on a stewarding issue arising out of the Birmingham game. Let me say at the outset, that in no way does the Club seek to treat our fans unfairly or worse than visiting supporters. It would be a nonsense and an own goal to do so. An incident took place in New Road as a cause of Birmingham supporters having tickets in the stand. Immediately Birmingham had sold their allocation, we restricted ticket sales to BFC fans on our database with a previous purchasing history. This will not be the case for all games and some will never be on General Sale. Of course, there are exceptions to that, such as groups of visiting fans, normally from abroad, who clearly are not fans of the opposition and want to take in a game of football in London as part of their trip. Griffin Park, with its traditional charm, pubs on all corners, well three at least, and with Championship football to offer is becoming a favourite venue for foreign football fans. When our stewards realise there are visiting fans in home areas, there is a process they follow to move the fans either out of the stadium or sometimes, if there is space, to Brook Road. In this particular instance, the process couldn’t be followed because of the intervention of Bees fans. Our stewards’ primary purpose is crowd safety and if further action is required, a trained response team is requested and they will deal with the matter.
The Birmingham fans identified were asked to leave and made to do so, but we were unable to get sight of their tickets, which would have given us immediate information on how they were obtained. We will, however, be viewing our CCTV to make sure exactly what seats they were in so we know how they got their tickets. The Brentford fans involved were invited to meet our Operations Team, who had reviewed witness statements, CCTV footage and audio related to the matter. The two fans admitted they were in the wrong. They agreed to a one match ban and are happy to sign an agreement reminding them to comply with ground regulations in future. We do not want to issue bans to any supporters, and I fully understand the frustration of having visiting fans in home areas, but we also have a duty to protect our staff from abuse. They are simply trying to do their job after all. There will be a change to some practices as a result of this incident with additional briefings for stewards to deal with situations such as these and more thorough checks when tickets are bought. Griffin Park is a fantastic place to watch football and our fans can create a wonderfully positive and passionate atmosphere, we want to keep it that way which in turn will help us to introduce new fans to this great Club.
Enjoy the game and on behalf of Brentford Football Club, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas.
More from Mark, an exclusive with Dean Smith on a year in charge, and much more will be available in tomorrow's edition of Bees Review, on sale around the ground for £3.50