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Thursday, 15 April, 1999, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
A hard lesson to learn
Tributes around the goal to football's faithful (Liverpool Echo)
The report by Lord Justice Taylor into the Hillsborough Stadum disaster criticised senior officers on duty at the match for a "failure of control" and recommended, most notably, the introduction of all-seater stadiums.

BBC sports reporter Peter Stevenson looks at whether British football has learnt from its findings.

After Heysel and Bradford, the tragic events in Sheffield should have emphasised the urgent need for widespread improvements in Britain's football stadia.

The Taylor report recommended that top grounds in England and Scotland should become all-seater, and certainly these days the Premiership boasts some impressive venues.

The Taylor report led to the end of terraces
Old Trafford, Anfield, Villa Park, Highbury, Elland Road and Stamford Bridge staged top international matches during Euro 96.

They could also comfortably accommodate World Cup fixtures should England be awarded the competition in 2006.

A number of clubs, such as Middlesbrough, Derby, Bolton Wanderers and Sunderland, have taken the radical step of abandoning their traditional base to move to purpose-built venues - another response to the Taylor report.

Lower down the Nationwide League, scores of other clubs, helped by the Football Trust, have carried out major refurbishments of their stadia, though there is no compulsion to go all-seater.

Support for terracing

Despite all this, and more than 10 years after Hillsborough, some fans still insist that standing should still be allowed at even the biggest fixtures.

It is argued that all seater grounds have diminished the atmosphere, even in the name of safety.

The Football Supporters Association, while acknowledging the improvements to stadia, says that clubs are using them to take advantage of fans.

"With the loss of terracing there's been the loss of cheaper areas, and it's exluded a lot of people from football. Many clubs are being extortionate," said Allison Pilling, the association's chairwoman.

Relationships between police and fans have improved
There are still signs that football has not fully learned the lessons. In 1999, Manchester United fans leaving Selhurst Park complained about serious crushing.

Further afield, Manchester United fans have also experienced problems entering and leaving stadia involved in Champions' League ties at European clubs like Porto and Inter Milan.

Policing, stewarding and ticket allocation all contribute to regular outbreaks of trouble - issues which the Football Supporters Association says are a greater risk to fans than terracing.

"We've always said that Hillsborough was a policing problem and a problem with the fences, not the fans," said Alison Pilling.

"But relationships between supporters and police have improved over the years, as well as the improvements of the stadia and stewarding - but there's some way to go."

And the standard of Premiership grounds does not appear to have been matched in some European countries.

Ironically, there is now more money than ever in football, thanks to television rights, sponsorship and large crowds.

The hope must be that such wealth enables clubs to constantly monitor the fabric and systems at their grounds to try to make sure that large-scale tragedies are confined to history.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Hopes for the future
Young footballer Ian Montague
'There could be another Hillsborough'
Trevor Hicks of the Hillsborough Family Support Group
Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


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