Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

FA apology welcome but too late

FA chairman David Bernstein said the Hillsborough disaster should never have happened.

Hillsborough families have welcomed the Football Association's apology to all those affected by the disaster - but said it should have been made years ago.

FA chairman David Bernstein offered "a full and unreserved apology" following the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report into the events at the FA Cup semi-final 23 years ago.

Margaret Aspinall of the Hillsborough family support group said the FA apology was long overdue. She told the Press Association: "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."

She added: "The FA did have a role in what happened so it's right we should hear from them."

The report showed the ground was unsafe and did not have a valid safety certificate at the time of the match. Sheffield Wednesday apologised and Bernstein has followed suit.

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.

Bernstein commended the work of the panel in compiling the report and expressed sympathy for the families. He said 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."