It’s pretty safe to say Sheffield United’s statement on the current situation surrounding the Kop end went down like a lead balloon yesterday. Well, on social media anyway.
A quick scan of the usual social channels shows countless different opinions, takes, and thoughts. Blades fans have been quick to have their say, after United confirmed they’ll be stopping sales of tickets on The Kop for the foreseeable future.
It leaves around 2,000 or so seats empty on United’s iconic stand. It must be caveated that supporters who have already purchased a Kop ticket for Burnley or Rotherham will still be able to attend.
Of course, United will argue there is not a lot they can do. Taken directly from the statement, United confirmed that pressures from different safety groups have led to this decision.
“Both the council and SGSA have been in contact asking the club to intervene on matters of safety within the Kop before they take further action. Should safety procedures not be followed, blocks of seats – or a full stand – can be closed. It is unfortunate that this approach is fast becoming a reality and the repercussions will effect a significant number of supporters,” the statement read.
But while there are clear reasons for the communication and decision taken, it’s a risky play by the Blades board at a crucial point of the season.
Blades Fans Fuming At Sheffield United Statement
The main consensus to come out of the announcement – after a scan online anyway – was that this decision seems to have been taken without fan consultation. Sure, there are arguments for and against involving supporters in certain club decisions. But this may be one that could have benefitted from some sort of meeting.
Further, it seems that some feel the decision to warn United fans over standing at the back of the Kop seems to contradict with recent calls from Paul Heckingbottom for Bramall Lane to be even louder. As every Blade knows, those back few rows on the Kop generate the noise.
Naturally, you can throw some counter arguments in. For one, if people are simply not in the seating area their ticket states, then it is a direct health and safety risk. Further, there may be fans in those areas who find the whole aspect of congregating and standing an issue. From here, there may have been complaints, at which point the club has to act.
All in all, though, this comes across as a divisive message when the Blades need the fans the most. We are six without a win, with two tough away games coming up.
Certainly, it will be interesting to see how the Kop and Bramall Lane responds against Burnley. Common sense would suggest advice will be heeded. But in the heat of matchday, where old habits are hard to break, the club have created a possible tension point here.