Excitement tinged the crowd on a crisp and clear afternoon early one March, perfect weather for the FA Cup Sixth Round between Bolton and Stoke City, who was struggling and trying to mount a serious title challenge for the First Division title – one they ended up subsequently losing to Sheffield United later that season.
The crowd yearning to see the match numbered more than 85,000, and the stadium, while normally capable of handling such a mass of eager fans, was hampered by rudimentary facilities and was partly closed where the Ministry of Supply had requisitioned sections of the stand which had not yet returned to normal use. To make matters worse, sections of turnstiles were inoperable and closed for years.
In those days, fans paid at turnstiles, and when management closed them, the fans became unruly and started climbing over them and over other barriers. The ensuing melee resulted in an overwhelming wave of humanity that pressed against the barriers, with two of them collapsing and causing the crowd to fall forward, crushing them underneath. Thirty-three people died and over 400 injured that day.
This Burden Park disaster on 9 March 1946 was the deadliest stadium-related disaster until the Ibrox Park incident in 1971. The aftermath of this sad event resulted in the Moelwyn Hughes report, which recommended more rigorous control of crowd sizes.
Whilst controlling crowd size is important, there are other factors underlying this situation that required greater control and focus. Most venues at occasionally have areas that are sectioned off for a myriad of reasons, repairs, safety, reduction of expense, etc., and there will always be an abundance of over-eager fans clamoring to get in and root for their team.
The reports on the Burden Park disaster neglect to detail how staff was handling the situation, other than taking the drastic – and anger inciting – step of shutting down the turnstiles. How many staff were on duty is another unknown and where they were during the incident is lost to the annuls of history, but it is safe to say that they were not effective in stemming the surge of fans in time to prevent the disaster, likely because of poor communication and lack of preparedness.
In contemporary times, stadiums and venues are more sophisticated in anticipating and dealing with closures, incidents and unruly crowds, yet still operating on antiquated and outdated technology.
This is where CrowdSafe comes into play. We developed the technology to enable rapid – almost immediate – communication during events, and more importantly sophisticated algorithms to predict staffing and related issues before an incident happens. Like the adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the same applies here. Forewarned is forearmed, and our application enhances crowd safety and control by detailing the element needed and forecasting deployment and staffing size. These and the many other features are all designed, and customized to each venue, to help manage crowds more effectively and efficiently.
We created the optimum technology platform specifically to manage an event’s activity from start to finish, resulting in significant savings of time, resources and expenditure. Our team of crowd safety experts work together with your staff and security managers to suit your specific situation and standards of customer experience. We seamlessly integrate our robust platform with your team and provide solutions that include Incident Response Panels, Informative Event Dashboards and Indoor Resource Tracking.
The game between Bolton and Stoke City, shockingly, continued, ending goalless, a sad cap of a horrible day. We at CrowdSafe believe that this, and the many other crowd disasters, are preventable, and that is one of the many reasons why we created our product. With the increasingly unstable situations that many venues face, it is vital that we all do what we can to prevent or respond to such incidents as rapidly and effectively as we can. Together we can design a solution just for you. Contact us now to see how we can help prevent your venue from becoming another statistic. Your future can be safe – with CrowdSafe.