By Tony Attwood
It is now five days since the shocking scenes outside of Arsenal Stadium, where thousands of fans were shouted at by stewards and forced to queue incredibly dangerously on concrete stairways when trying to gain access to the ground.
No apology has been made and no explanation has been offered to fans as to how things went so utterly and totally wrong before the game.
In fact not only has there been no apology there has not even been any admission by Arsenal that something went terribly wrong at the Norwich game in terms of seemingly utterly inept and unqualified people organising security checks outside the ground. As a result we are still left with ten questions unanswered.
It was shocking. But worse is the fact that no one is even admitting to fans there was a problem and it needs sorting out.
- Was the company that got the contract experienced in crowd control at a stadium?
The people employed looked like total amateurs, running around shouting at fans without any noticeable chain of command or the calmness and coolness that is essential when large crowds are to be controlled sensibly without anyone being hurt.
Did the company put forward plans including having control at the top of a flight of stairs and Arsenal allowed it?
2. Were the employees vetted to show they had experience?
No reassurance has been given by the club to fans affected by the behaviour of the supposed crowd controllers that this sort of behaviour by the subcontractors will not be tolerated again by the club.
3. Were the employees trained, and if so by which company?
The behaviour of the sub-contractors’ staff certainly made it hard to believe that they had received any form of training in crowd control whatsoever.
4. Were there Arsenal members of staff watching the events before the game unfolded?
The impression I got was that as a bunch of utterly untrained people were left to handle security outside the ground, there were no representatives of Arsenal overseeing how these people behaved. And I am specifically talking about how the security team behaved, not Arsenal supporters, because if there was going to be any trouble it was going to come from the aggressive over-excited entry controllers.
5. If there were no Arsenal members of staff overseeing the situation, why not?
It was self-evident to all of us who had to deal with the security people stopping fans from entering the area immediate around the stadium, that the staff of the security company were untrained youngsters who had no idea what they were doing or how to do it.
Arsenal must have known these were the sort of people that they were going to get at the ground – and maybe their excuse was that this was the only company willing to take on the job on a Saturday afternoon.
But knowing who the club was employing they had a duty to have their own team watching – and clearly by allowing the newly employed security team to force people to queue on concrete steps, this bunch of chancers had no idea what they were up to – and Arsenal must have known this.
6. Have Arsenal members of staff been warned about appointing sub contractors and not monitoring them in the future?
Arsenal cannot possibly employ this bunch of chancers again and so must bring in a new company for the next match. So this time will there be full-time permanent members of Arsenal overseeing how the system is set up, and how it is being run, so that fans do not have the dangers of queuing on steps, and do not have to suffer abuse from the crowd controllers.
7. Will a new company be in place?
Not to have a new firm operating the security protocols for the next match would be an utter insult to all Arsenal fans who pay good money to come to the stadium and expect a decent standard of treatment from those they encounter. Telling us there will be a new company in place is the least we can expect.
8. Will this company be monitored?
It should not be up to us supporters to tell Arsenal where the club has totally and utterly failed – and yet that at the moment seems to be the position we are left in. We still have no information, and no apology.
9. How is Arsenal planning to restore the faith of supporters in the ability of the club to run events safely?
The Norwich match was a PR disaster for the club, and the club is lucky that football journalists never consider hobnobbing with mere supporters otherwise the write up in the press would have been catastrophic. But Arsenal cannot rely on its fans not to go to the media if this disaster happens again – and at the moment Arsenal is not even showing fans that it recognises anything went wrong.
10. Will Arsenal answer any of these questions?
I have not seen them take up the point at all, and yet Arsenal was putting people’s well-being at risk. Why is there this silence?