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Safety is paramount

12 March 2017

A message from Erik ahead of game on Tuesday night

In his programme notes yesterday, Chief Executive Erik Samuelson explained the thinking behind the special arrangements that have been put in place to ensure the safety of all who will be attending our home match in two days’ time.

The full article which appeared in the Northampton programme is now republished below.

I very rarely talk about the same topic in successive programmes, but that’s what I’m doing today. You won’t be surprised that the topic is Tuesday night’s game against Milton Keynes. We’ve now had three meetings of the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) to discuss and plan the arrangements for the game, which I think reflects its unique nature. As a comparison, for all the other high- or higher-risk games this season, we’ve covered all the main issues as part of a single meeting.

Many of the arrangements for Tuesday are similar to those for other high-profile games this season, such as the match being all-ticket and only our own fans being allowed into the main car park. Home fans will be asked to show their match ticket as they enter Jack Goodchild Way (stewards will have a list to cater for fans who are collecting their tickets on the day). However, we’ve taken some other specific steps to try to ensure safety, and I want to explain why we’ve done this.

First, we’ve restricted the numbers of tickets for away fans to 650. This is to make it easier to manage the crowd generally, and more specifically to make it easier to ensure that away fans don’t stand between the barrier and the pitch-edge hoardings. Unusually, we’ve also reduced by 100 the number of tickets available for home fans in the RyGas Stand, partly to make crowd management easier and partly because we may choose to expand the sterile area between the two sets of fans on that terrace.

After showing Milton Keynes officials round the stadium a few weeks ago, we agreed with them that the game would be a “bubble” game – one to which their fans may gain entry only if they come by coach – and they decided that any of their directors who come to the game will stand with their fans.

Furthermore, to reduce the risk of unticketed away fans seeking entry to the game, we suggested that the match should be screened live by means of a beam-back, as was done for the Millwall and Charlton games this season. On those previous occasions we’ve not sought a share of any profits that the visiting club might make by charging their fans to watch the beam-back. I’ve been told that some of our fans think we should have demanded a share of any such profits, but this decision was driven by safety considerations.

Looking at the figures for ticket sales as I write this on Wednesday morning, it appears that they will be some way short of selling all their allocation, and – to be blunt – from a safety management point of view, that is very helpful. If the availability of the beam-back will have contributed to that, then so be it.

Another source of concern to our fans has been the ticketing for AFC Wimbledon supporters. We were determined that only our fans should be able to get tickets for the home areas. The anecdotal evidence from previous games is that the main source of non-Wimbledon fans gaining entry is where we lose control over who we sell to, namely when people buy tickets for someone else. By making the game one ticket per person, so that season-ticket holders already had their one ticket and couldn’t buy another, we’ve been able to control this far better than ever before. We are well aware that these arrangements have caused some anguish, but it has all been done in the interests of safety.

  on the official website). Both clubs are monitoring this very carefully. And sniffer dogs will be present to seek out any pyrotechnics (incidentally, I was amused when the police suggested that we should point out that these dogs also sniff out “other substances”). Our fans have little or no track record when it comes to flares, but we are taking every precaution we can think of.announcementThere are a couple of other new controls we’ve introduced. First, as a result of the incident at the Charlton game, we are requiring fans to register flags and banners in advance (see our 

On the official website we will be publishing more articles before the game, aimed at ensuring the safety of all who attend. Please do read them.


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