Manchester United say they have made changes after death of fan who fell down stairwell

Manchester Evening News 2 months ago

Manchester United say they have made changes to safety procedures after the death of a fan who fell down a stairwell at Old Trafford.

Richard John Whale, 80, suffered a fatal head injury as he fell while leaving the derby defeat against City in December 2017.

He was taken to Salford Royal Hospital after the fall in the Sir Alex Ferguson stand but died the following day.

An inquest into his death was held in November 2018 with a jury returning a verdict of accidental death.

However the positioning of stewards on the exit stairwell was found to be a contributory factor.

As a result, Senior South Manchester Coroner Alison Mutch wrote a report to prevent future deaths which was sent to United, Trafford council, and the department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

In the report that emerged today she says "there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken."

Specifically the inquest jury found that impeding of the exit by stewards, the obstruction of access to the handrails and the lack of awareness of their surroundings by stewards were all contributory factors.

The incident happened towards the end of the Manchester derby at Old Trafford in December 2017

In her report the coroner says: "It was accepted by MUFC that the club stewards were not complying with the code of conduct relating to stewards although one was trained and one was undergoing training.

"A supervisor was also supervising them.

"There was no evidence of regular audits of stewards and their compliance with the Code of Conduct."

It also said: "The local authority had issued a list of recommendations to the club after the death of Mr Whale.

 

"There was no mechanism in place for discussion of these recommendations or to ensure that they had been followed or if not followed discussion for reasons."

However in a statement United said they had now implemented the suggestions made by the coroner.

"Everyone at Manchester United was deeply saddened by the death of Mr Whale and the club continues to extend its sincere condolences to his family" the club said.

Coroner Alison Mutch wrote a report to prevent future deaths

"The health and safety of all supporters and visitors at Old Trafford is of utmost importance to Manchester United and we go to great lengths to ensure procedures are monitored and adhered to at all times.

'"We work with independent safety inspectors from the local council, as well as national stadium safety inspectors, to ensure the correct procedures are administered.

"'We were fully compliant with all applicable regulations at the time of this tragic accident and the coroner's investigation resulted in a conclusion of accidental death.

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"However, we constantly seek to learn and improve on our procedures and we welcomed the observations in the coroner's report on opportunities for further risk reduction, which we have now implemented."

Mr Whale's family did not want to discuss the case when contacted by the M.E.N.

 

A spokesperson for Trafford council said: “Following the inquest into this tragic incident, the council worked with Manchester United to implement the recommendations of the coroner to ensure the safety of all fans and visitors to the stadium.”


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