In each case the pros and cons of a fence must be carefully balanced and the case discussed with the governing body concerned and with the local police and safety authorities, whose views will carry great weight. The following factors should be taken into consideration:

• The need for a fence is most likely in the case of soccer, particularly in countries or individual grounds with a history of violent crowd behaviour.

• The most problematical cases are those where highly valued traditional customs conflict with the latest safety trends - for instance, sports grounds with a tradition of allowing crowds

Sightlines through perimeter fence

Sightlines through perimeter fence

Figure 9.1 Perimeter fences protect the pitch from crowd invasion but also obstruct viewing, are often unsightly and may hinder escape in cases of emergency.

on to the pitch at certain matches. Croke Park in Dublin, the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association (and where gaelic football and hurling have their roots) has a custom of allowing the crowd on to the pitch to carry off the winning captain on their shoulders (and also allowing lifting small children over the turnstiles to sit on the knees of their parents in the stands). These practices are under threat from the new wave of safety consciousness but are not inherently dangerous if properly controlled. Twickenham had a tradition of spectators coming on to the pitch after rugby matches but this is not now allowed. Customs such as these contribute to the special character of individual stadia and should not be thoughtlessly destroyed by blanket insistence on universally-applied safety techniques. Some modification to take account of individual circumstances should be the aim. For instance Wembley Stadium in London (Case study 25) and Croke Park have used a modified type of fence called a 'cat's cradle'. This is a wire cage the height of a low fence which does not obstruct vision but is difficult to climb across.

Most football grounds in the UK have now removed perimeter fences altogether.

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American Football 101

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