Crisis ManagementIntroduction The football stadium at Blackburn, Lancashire, England or the Ewood Park as it is originally known, was built and opened in April, 1882. Blackburn Rovers Football Club is the tenant of this stadium having moved from Leamington Road during the summer of 1890. Incidentally, Ewood Park is also the oldest home to a Premier League Club. Though stadiums like Anfield (home to Liverpool FC) and Stamford Bridge (home to Chelsea FC) were constructed earlier, in the year 1884 and 1877 respectively, matches were not played till 1892 and 1905 respectively.
The Stadium has hosted three matches in the Women’s Euro 2000 competition and also has been host to a lot of U21 matches including one in 2004 between England and Wales. Greyhound Racing, Athletics and Football are the events that take place in the stadium with football being the predominant event. The stadium has a seating capacity of 31,367 although as per latest unconfirmed information it is likely to be increased to about 40,000. The entire stadium was bought at a cost of 2500 pounds in the year 1893 by the Blackburn Rovers FC.
The stadium encloses two popular stands, Riverside Stand and Jack Walker Stand each named after the location it is situated in and after a famous personality respectively and two other ends namely the Darwen End and the Blackburn End also named after the direction of their location. For example the Jack Walker stand is named after the illustrious industrialist and noted club supporter, Jack Walker. Built in 1903 the Darwen End got a roof at a total construction cost of 1680 pounds and can hold spectator strength of up to 12,000.
Corporate facilities like media / conferencing and dressing rooms are located in the Jack Walker Stand. The Walkersteel Blackburn End Stand constructed in the early 1990s has a seating capacity of 8000 supporters providing safety and comfort to U16s and their families. It also accommodates the boardroom, home supporters ticket office and “Blues” café bar. The Fraser Eagle or Riverside Stand along the banks of the River Darwen can hold 7000 spectators and also accommodates a giant TV screen showing live matches, other features and events taking place in the stadium.
The fourth stand namely the WEC Group Darwen End Stand with a capacity to hold 8000 spectators and houses the away supporters in a two tier stand exactly like the Blackburn End. Legislative Controls Football clubs in UK which are professional have a duty under the Government’s safety and health legislative controls to carry out risk assessment of events and activities. One of the main requirements under this legislative control is the duty bound assessment of the player’s safety introduced by the impact of ground layout.
A Ground-Player Safety score (GPS) has been evolved which is defined by a base factor which in turn is arrived at from the position of the perimeter fencing when contrasted with the pitch, and is degraded when potential hazards arise from advertising boards, cameramen and Television equipment which are lined up along the continuum from the playing area. Almost all Football Clubs including the English and Scottish professional ones carry out this form of assessment. Acceptable scores were found only at 42% of English and 71% of Scottish clubs.
However in all others, barring a few, the ground layout was modified suitably both to get acceptable GPS scores and as well as minimize risk to players’ safety. This legislative control helps in using the venue and its facilities in a controlled fashion without endangering the safety of players, their families, match officials or spectators, should any unforeseen disaster occur leading to a crisis situation. Due to this legislation the management is restricted to the use of venue and its facilities especially on the perimeter around the pitch as indicated above so as to protect and uphold the safety of all the players and visiting spectators.