High-ranking security and operations personnel working in English football have been perturbed by messaging from the Wembley stadium director, Liam Boylan, which completely ignores the comprehensive failings of the Euro 2020 final that could have led to fatalities.
Just two days after the findings of an independent review into the event – commissioned and paid for by the Football Association (FA) – ruled that the organisation did not “match the occasion” and there was a “collective failure to plan for the worst case scenario”, Boylan credited a “world class stadium delivery team” in a LinkedIn post that ignores the dangerous, chaotic scenes at the ground on 11 July 2020.
One Championship safety officer told The Independent it was “par for the course to pretend like nothing had gone wrong,” adding that the “priority for Wembley is PR over everything else”.
As per the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA), “responsibility for the safety at a sports grounds lies at all times with ground management”, a fact which was repeated in Baroness Casey’s review despite it largely absolving Wembley, the FA, and all other authorities for their grave errors before, during, and after the final.
A fan liaison officer of a top Premier League club feels Boylan’s post and the slant of the review to rightly go hard on the ticketless thugs but be passive towards the powers that be, exculpating them from blame, feeds into a “culture at the top of English football to avoid responsibility and ensure supporters are the enemy. They would rather penalise fans more than focus on pro-active crowd control, better stewarding and evidenced-based management of events.”
One of the game’s leaders on security and operations offered a more detailed take on that point to The Independent. “It seems to be lost on the stadium that they also played a part in what was found to be a disastrous operation with significant criticism of their planning.
“Visitors to our national stadium need to have confidence in the security operations and these comments two days after a critical independent report, undermine not only the findings of the inquiry but also the expectations visitors can have in respect of their safety.
“The comments also make it clear that at a senior level there is no security culture at Wembley and that is a very dangerous prospect, especially given the increase in the risk of terrorism in the UK.”
One of Baroness Casey’s recommendations for the FA and Wembley is for “security plans to be regularly peer reviewed by experienced safety and security professionals to ensure rigour”. None of the experts in that field contributing to this report believe that will be implemented.
Boylan has been approached for comment.
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