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Wanderers wait for green light for Aston Villa clash

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Wanderers will find out this morning if their home game against Aston Villa will be given the go-ahead.

A meeting of the SAG (Safety Advisory Group) was held on Monday evening but further assurances on crowd safety are being sought before the council will sanction the Championship clash.

The EFL advanced money to Bolton earlier this month to ensure games against Ipswich Town and Middlesbrough went ahead.

Council officers had issued a prohibition notice over concerns for spectator safety, with match-day staff threatening to strike over pay and bills owed to the emergency services.

Director of place, Gerry Brough, confirmed Bolton Council’s position, and that of the SAG.

“The council has a relationship with the club on two fronts, one is we’re an unsecured creditor of the club and the council has made it quite clear that we would treat Bolton Wanderers the same way as any other business that has a key role to play in the economy and social life of the community.

“That is we would continue to support it, would not do anything that would lead to the demise of the club, and we would work with anyone who wishes to work with the club as a going concern.

“The second area, particularly at this moment of time, is that we’re the authority that issues safety certificates for the ground.

“We do it on two basis – one, a certificate for the football ground, to be used for football on a regular basis, and we also issue ad hoc certificates for other events, pop concerts or whatever.

“We are advised by the SAG (Safety Advisory Group), which consists of all the emergency services in Bolton. They are generally the people who turn up and ensure safety at grounds when there is an event on.

“That advisory group is pretty much meeting on a weekly basis now.

“The safety certificate demands that the club can reassure us that they have all the staff necessary not just to run the event but to deal with any emergency that could occur during the event.

“It is quite specific. It is not just about turnstile operators and so on, it’s backroom staff as well. They have to convince us that they have got sufficient staff to make any event safe.

“If you are not paying your staff we take the view that you can’t guarantee your staff are going to turn up. And if you can’t guarantee your staff are not going to turn up for an event, we feel you cannot guarantee an event’s safety.

“Any time we’re informed there’s a likelihood people are not getting paid, the SAG will meet and if we don’t get the reassurance we are looking for from the club, we will issue a prohibition notice preventing any member of the public from entering the ground.

“We have got no option on that. We can’t compromise on safety.

“If the club subsequently give us the reassurances we are looking for we have to relent and let the public back into the ground.

“We will continue to prevent access to the ground if we think there is any possibility any member of staff who is necessary for the safety of the ground are not likely to turn up on the day.

“If we don’t get the reassurances we are looking for, I’m afraid we will issue a prohibition notice for Friday’s game.

“This is not something we want to be doing every week. It takes a lot of my staff’s time and we are pulling in emergency services to these meetings and I’m sure they have got other things they’d rather do with their time.

“We will not be overly aggressive but we have to adhere to the regulations of the Safety of Grounds Act.”

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