Burnley Football Club experienced several issues ahead of and during last night’s Capital One Cup second round tie v Preston North End at Turf Moor.
In addition to the Bob Lord Stand, the club elected to open only the lower tiers of the James Hargreaves and Jimmy McIlroy Stands in order to provide the best possible atmosphere for the players on the night.
To a large degree we believe this was beneficial, and the feedback from manager Sean Dyche and the players was very positive.
However, the closure of the two upper tiers did present challenges for everyone.
Ahead of kick off, a large, unquantifiable number of supporters arrived at the turnstiles in the 10 minutes leading up to kick off, particularly in the James Hargreaves Stand.
Supporters are always advised to arrive early, especially for cup ties and when paying at cash turnstiles, but with a high number of walk-ups and limited capacity, this is exacerbated.
All available turnstiles in the stands were initially open for a combination of tickets and cash.
At the point when cash turnstiles run out of tickets they are asked to close and cash-up, causing a short delay before re-opening for ‘tickets only’.
However, upon investigation, it appears that a number did not. The operational aspect of this is now being addressed internally.
In addition, there are only a finite number of tickets available on the turnstiles for vacant seats and these tickets do, often, need to be moved between turnstiles, causing further short delays.
Once inside the James Hargreaves Lower tier, there were major issues caused by some supporters migrating into blocks two and three, closest to the Preston North End supporters, despite holding tickets for seats elsewhere in the stand.
This caused potential overcrowding issues in those blocks, which unfortunately could not be dealt with until half time for safety reasons.
However, throughout the first half and at half time stewards offered transfers elsewhere as an option, and over 30 people accepted a move from the James Hargreaves Lower to Jimmy McIlroy lower tier as a direct result of what was encountered.
At half time, when many supporters transfer to the concourse, stewards also attempted to address this overcrowding with additional ticketing checks.
There was an additional problem of persistent standing in these areas. This is and was monitored, but does also rely on supporter understanding to help combat the problem.
Finally, we have received complaints from supporters wishing to use the vaping zone, located at one end of the James Hargreaves lower tier and having to traverse the whole stand to use this area.
Burnley Football Club will look to examine the feasibility of extending these areas for large attendances
In closing, we would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused at last night’s game and we thank you for your patience, understanding and support.