Crisis Management – A Report. Introduction Home to Blackburn Rovers Football club (one of the founders of the football league), Ewood Park, is a Blackburn, Lancashire based football stadium. Inaugurated in 1882, as an all seater multi-sports facility, the stadium at Blackburn has a capacity of 31,367. Four stands form the stadium namely, Darwen End, Riverside Stand (on the banks of the River Darwen), Blackburn End and Jack Walker Stand named after erstwhile club supporter and Blackburn based industrialist Jack Walker. The pitch inside the stadium measures about 115 yards (105m) by 76 yards (69m).
Ewood Park is the oldest home to a Premier League club. During 1880s Ewood Park used to stage athletics and greyhound racing besides football. In 1890 Rovers club moved in to play their first match against Accrington Stanley in September. In 1891 the ground was bestowed with the honor of hosting an international match between England and Scotland. Blackburn Rovers bought the stadium for 2500 pounds in 1893 but soon met with a disaster when a stand collapsed due to overcrowding (numbering more than 20,000) owing to the visit of Everton.
Subsequently a roof was built at the Darwen End of the ground in 1903 at a cost of 1680 pounds. Ewood Park is the 14th largest facility in capacity in the Premiership. The population of Blackburn itself if 105,085 and Ewood Park attracts the maximum of this population when comparing to the proportion of town / city size, an attendance accounting for almost quarter of the town’s population. The Jack Walker stand contains the home / away dressing rooms and media / conferencing facilities.
It is also home to the Premier Suite and Pennants Lounge, part of the club’s hospitality packages. The higher tier of the Blackburn stand houses the family enclosure meant as a safe and comfortable environment for under 16s and their families. Outside the stand is the club shop “Roverstore”, revamped in 2008. The lower reaches of the stand houses the home supporters ticket office and the “Blues” café bar. At the corner of the Riverside Stand is a giant TV screen showing features, team sheets and other live games on a particular match day.
Legislative controls – Intent and its use on the venue. The current legislative controls existing on the venue though addresses large scale crowd management does not include adequate health and safety measures which is appropriate here. Even Fire Safety and Occupational Health & Safety requirements are not that much elaborate enough for the type of events conducted at the venue. Thereby the management of the venue is forced to act in a budget restricted manner and compounded with inexperience will lead to the situation of deploying minimal and ill-equipped staffing and equipment.
Moreover these days there is an earnest requirement for training personnel and registering them as Security Officers before being deployed in security related tasks at large public entertainment events. Further another legislation known as the Disaster Management Bill propounds to address the major issues of overall responsibility, emergency plans and procedures which will ultimately benefit the advance planning of stadium management enormously. It will impart the requisite authority to personnel from the National Disaster Management to audit and halt major public entertainment events, if necessary, should they lack in proper or adequate planning, preparation, security or staffing for crowd management.
Despite all these legislative controls in place to deal with any arising emergency or disaster there is still need for a well defined and regulated national standard towards crowd safety measures and security staffing, deployed at large public gatherings, irrespective of the nature of event, entertainment or sporting.