Fiorentina fan cage torn down for Liverpool FC?s Champions League visit
25 September 2009 06:00
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LIVERPOOL have welcomed Fiorentina's decision to dismantle the cage that they normally use to house away fans ahead of next Tuesday's Champions League clash between the clubs.
Reds officials raised their concerns about the poor facilities for travelling supporters in the 47,000 capacity Stadio Artemio Franchi after a fact-finding trip to Italy earlier this month.
A report was sent to UEFA urging action and the Serie A club have started to make improvements to benefit the 2,400 Reds fans.
Metal fencing has been removed which should improve the view for supporters who will be packed into an uncovered corner behind the goal.
Liverpool stadium manager and head of operations Ged Poynton said: 'When we did our reccy a fortnight ago I had real concerns about the safety and welfare of our fans in that away end.
'It was one of the worst away sections I've seen in 19 years of going around European grounds.
'The fencing was so high and so deep that a lot of fans wouldn't have been able to even see half of the pitch.
'It would also have encouraged fans to all head for the top of the section where there is only a small railing and then a big drop.
'It was totally unacceptable and we made our point to club officials and the police. We asked if they would put their fans in that section and they said no.
'Our report was submitted to UEFA and we're very pleased to hear action is now being taken.
'Taking away some of the fencing is positive and we will see when we get there how far they have gone.
'It's still a poor section of the ground but any improve-ments are to be welcomed.'
Florence Police are determined to avoid a repeat of the problems which dogged Everton's UEFA Cup clash in the city in March last year.
Blues supporters complained about over-zealous policing and claimed they were all treated like thugs.
Chief of Police Francesco Tagliente says lessons have been learned and he has even taken the step of consulting with Reds fans via fans forums on websites to ensure they enjoy the trip.
He has agreed not to enforce a city centre alcohol ban but sales will only be allowed in bars and restaurants, not in supermarkets, and drinking in public will not be permitted.