Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

FA apology not enough - Burnham

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham believes the FA still have a lot to answer for over the Hillsborough disaster

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has insisted the Football Association still have questions to answer over the Hillsborough disaster despite their full apology.

Burnham questioned how the FA had allowed the FA Cup semi-final 23 years ago to be played in a ground without a valid safety certificate, and said negligence was to blame. An initial FA statement did not contain an apology but, following calls from Hillsborough families, four hours later FA chairman David Bernstein made "a full and unreserved apology".

Burnham, who did much to have the inquiry into the disaster reopened when he was a member of the Labour Cabinet in 2009, told Sky News: "The FA need to ask themselves some serious questions."

It came after the Hillsborough Independent Panel report showed the ground was unsafe and did not have a valid safety certificate at the time of the match on April 15 1989. It also revealed a police cover-up had taken place which had intended to shift blame for the disaster, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans, to the victims themselves.

Burnham added: "The main one (question) is why did they allow a semi-final to be played at a ground without a valid safety certificate? I don't think there's an answer that people can accept because I think it was because of negligence of people's safety.

"Why were supporters allowed to go into those unsafe conditions and did the FA know of those other near misses at other semi-finals such as 1981 Wolves v Spurs and 1987 involving Leeds. I remember going to Hillsborough the year before and having one of the most distressing experiences of my life. All of these things were known about Hillsborough, how did nobody in football act upon them."

Margaret Aspinall of the Hillsborough families support group said: "We welcome the apology but the one thing that makes me angry is that we have had to wait for this report to come out before we get all the apologies that should have been made a long time ago. The FA did have a role in what happened so it's right we should hear from them."

Bernstein commended the work of the panel in compiling the report and expressed sympathy for the families, saying in a statement: "We are deeply sorry this tragedy occurred at a venue the FA selected. This fixture was played in the FA's own competition, and on behalf of the Football Association I offer a full and unreserved apology and express sincere condolences to all of the families of those who lost their lives and to everyone connected to the city of Liverpool and Liverpool Football Club."

He added: "This should never have happened. Nobody should lose their lives when setting out to attend a football match, and it is a matter of extreme regret and sadness that it has taken so long for these findings to be published and the truth to be told. For 23 years the families have suffered unbearable pain and we have profound sympathy for them.

"I would like to commend the professional work of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, while also recognising the tireless commitment shown by so many people in maintaining the fight for justice, particularly the family support groups."

Latest Sport News

Stats Centre