Oldham Athletic would like to issue a further detailed update in relation to matchday access at Boundary Park.
Given the statement yesterday regarding entry into the Oldham Event Centre when a specific event is taking place at Boundary Park (the match) and in the light of the counter statement issued by those running the OEC, it is important that the situation is fully clarified in detail and why it was necessary to seek stricter entry into the building and stand on a matchday, whilst looking at other safety measures.
The football club was hoping to prevent any criticism of individuals but unfortunately this is necessary in highlighting the measures that the club need to take to ensure the safety and security of spectators.
Contrary to the comments in the statement made by the OEC, the sole responsibility for safety and security at the stadium at the time of a specific event (the match) rest solely with the Certificate Holder, Abdallah Lemsagam.
Those who are keen on the legislation should refer to the Safety Legislation, the EFL Ground Regulations and the Licensing Regulation insofar as they affect the club.
The Certificate Holder is not obliged, nor does he have to abide with the requirement of any third party, which in this case would be the OEC. He is responsible for the stadium, all buildings and premises or any building utilised by the club on the day of the specific event.
Supporters should be aware that the OEC bar fall within the remit of the Safety Certificate and the discretion of who gets into the stadium to visit those premises rests with the Certificate Holder.
The club appreciates that these facts contained in legislation are not something that the OEC wants to recognise or abide by.
To highlight the steps that have to be taken in the interests of all supporters, it might be more understandable to point out the following to ensure that the requirements of legislation are upheld.
- The senior staff at the OEC and its supervisor have failed on numerous occasions to work in co-operation with the Safety Officer.
- On two occasions the club has received written notifications from the Council and a National Agency regarding inspections when a fire door was found chained during a game.
- Attempts have been made to ignore the Safety Officer when he has requested that fire doors be unchained.
- Senior supervisors at the OEC have accommodated a fan banned by the club in the belief that they operate a safe haven.
- Unauthorised entry has occurred into the OEC due to a lack of supervision or co-operation.
Subsequently, these matters of non-compliance, for which ultimately the Certificate Holder is liable for, became a matter for the attention and actions of the Safety Advisory Group.
Indeed, in view of these matters the good name of the club had been brought into disrepute and the authority of the Certificate Holder questioned. If anyone is in doubt about this, the club has been put on notice that it will be subjected to more checks and scrutiny.
Without referencing the process that followed thereafter it has to be said that the Certificate Holder is not obliged to sign any documentation presented by a third party and he himself is solely responsible for introducing measures that he feels are necessary.
The OEC never received anything in writing from Oldham Council that their completed documentation was acceptable, nor were they told that their measures took preference over anything submitted by the club.
On the contrary, the club has sole discretion in the measures it introduces and supporters should be aware that documentation provided by the club was totally acceptable.
It is totally wrong for the OEC to suggest that they had the initiative in this matter towards a document the club would not sign. As it stood, the OEC document did not meet the requirements of the club.
Indeed such was the document that it highlighted why Certificate Holders should not be compromised by third party input or interference.
Sufficient scope was given in the club document for the OEC to operate without problem. Ticketing arrangements have been introduced on security grounds and to ensure that illicit entry does not take place.
The club did not pursue an avenue that it could have taken by ensuring that strict entry into the stand was for fans who were season ticket holders in the Joe Royle Stand or who bought tickets for that stand.
Entry has been allowed for the bar in the stand to be visited on the production of a ticket or season ticket, from wherever they might go before the game. The club have also provided an exemption clause where a visitor is notified who might not be staying for the game.
The club considers that it has introduced measures that are fair and reasonable to everyone in its best efforts to ensure that supporters are safe and secure.
As stated before, the same consideration and means of entry also applies to the Roger Palmer Fans Bar.
The club have also noted a comment by the OEC that suggest that fans are welcome, ticket or no ticket.
Sufficient measures have been taken to prevent that and request all fans to respect the protocol taken and the reasons why.