The operating company for Rotherham United Football Club yesterday appeared before Sheffield Crown Court where it pleaded guilty to a single offence under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 dating back more than five years to January 2015 where, on a non-match day, the fire alarm sounding led to the evacuation of two functions held in the conference and events suites. There was no fire and nobody was harmed during the evacuation. The incident highlighted issues in the co-ordination of evacuation measures for non-match day events at the stadium between the Club and its third party hospitality partner.
The Club was fined £150,000 and agreed to pay a proportion of the Council’s costs for bringing the prosecution. The Club fully accepts that its procedures at that time in relation to such events were not as robust as they should have been and this is reflected in its guilty plea.
Following the events of January 2015, the Club swiftly launched an internal investigation and, in conjunction with its hospitality partner, took remedial steps to introduce more robust procedures.
In sentencing, the Judge praised the Club for its contribution to the local community and its conscientious approach in the specific improvements made at that time. Further, the Judge accepted that there have been no incidents since and no ongoing issues with non-match day safety.
Whilst the case did not relate to match day safety, the Club was pleased at the Judge’s recognition that there was and is no issue with the Club’s approach to match day safety and “that it has nothing but the highest regard for the safety of visiting and home supporters.”
The Club has always taken its health and safety responsibilities extremely seriously. Provision of a safe Stadium from which football and many other social events can be enjoyed by the local community is, and always has been, at the heart of everything the Club does. The Club is disappointed that the events of January 2015 did not meet the high standards it continually strives to achieve. The Club is glad that the matter has now concluded and it can move forward focussing all of its efforts on pursuing continued success both on and off the field.
The club will be making no further comment.