sport news stewards 'are just fans who watch for free', security experts ...

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John Whale suffered fatal head injuries when he fell down stairs as he left a Manchester derby in 2017

John Whale suffered fatal head injuries when he fell down stairs as he left a Manchester derby in 2017

Many of ’s stewards do the job for the perks of a free programme and the chance to watch their team play, security experts have claimed.

On Wednesday, Sportsmail revealed that the Premier League giants were slammed by a coroner after the death of lifelong supporter John Whale, who suffered fatal head injuries when he fell down stairs as he left a Manchester derby in 2017.

At the inquest into the 80-year-old grandfather’s death, the actions of two stewards, who blocked his access to handrails as he tried to leave, were found to have directly contributed to his death. The coroner was so concerned by what she had heard that she filed a ‘Report to Prevent Future Deaths’ to the club, the local authority and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

She said that unless further action was taken ‘there is a risk further deaths will occur’.

It can also be disclosed that one of the stewards involved told the three-day hearing he had taken the job because he was a United supporter. Now a security expert has warned that many of the stewards brought in on match-days simply see it as an opportunity to watch the team play.

‘They get to watch football for free,’ he said. ‘If they don’t have to deal with anything, it doesn’t affect watching the football. They are not trained to a high level.’

Some of those who apply for the jobs also work nightclub doors and so have Security Industry Authority (SIA) licenses and a higher level of training. However, many receive only cursory training and are not licensed by the SIA and therefore cannot even search fans. Their training covers basics like first aid and how to direct supporters.

Some regard it as an unwritten rule that because the pay is so low — little more than the minimum wage — they should be allowed to watch the match.

United use an outside company, Controlled Solutions Group, to look after stewarding.

Many Manchester United stewards do the job so they can watch the game, security experts say

Many stewards do the job so they can watch the game, security experts say

Whale fell down stairs in the Sir Alex Ferguson stand as he left a Manchester derby in 2017

Whale fell down stairs in the Sir Alex Ferguson stand as he left a Manchester derby in 2017 

They point out that the security elements of their staff are licensed by the SIA and say that both ‘security and part-time stewarding staff are trained and continually evaluated to ensure they meet or exceed all industry standards’.

The claims from the expert come after a fast-moving day of developments on which United finally revealed what safety improvements they have made in the wake of the tragedy.

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