Posted : 14th February 2007 at 23:40:16

New legislation will be introduced in due course to bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK with respect to safety at sports grounds. The Safety of Sports Grounds (NI) Order will require sports grounds with 5000 plus capacity or with a stand capacity of over 500 to take part in a new certification scheme. Some 25 sports grounds will be affected as will 15 other venues. A current guide of recommendations for safety at sports grounds is referred to as the ‘Green Guide’ and the fourth edition published in 1997 now comprises almost 250 pages. A new version is to be issued to cover Northern Ireland.

Supporters have been made aware through of a Facilities Audit requested by the Club and carried out in December 2006 to examine the requirements not only of this new order before it comes into force but also the ever increasing demands by UEFA club licensing scheme. A draft report by the ‘The Miller Partnership’, a Scottish company with extensive experience in stadium design within the United Kingdom, looks at the physical condition of the premises and the various safety aspects.

Windsor Park is over one hundred years old and like many stadia has been developed piecemeal. Buildings which met the regulatory controls of the day do not necessarily satisfy today’s stringent regulations. Concerns are currently expressed about fire safety with respect to the timber construction of the roof of the Railway Stand and the timber construction of part of the South Stand even though this was extensively treated to improve its fire retardancy in the late 80’s. These concerns are being addressed urgently and appropriate measures will be put in place within a short time frame.

After recent helpful consultation with the Fire and Rescue Service as well as our advisors detailed in the draft ‘Miller Report’, there is universal agreement that smoking poses an unacceptable risk within these stands. The Management Committee therefore has no option but to BAN SMOKING both outside in the seated areas of either stand and in all areas inside the South Stand. This includes the Press areas. There are no exceptions.

Failure to comply could have serious implications to the Club. Those needing to smoke during match time should transfer to the Alex Russell Stand. The Management is confident of the goodwill and understanding of our supporters.

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