Safety union declares 'nationwide shortage' of stewards
By Joe Tanner
Last Updated: 12/03/19 3:27pm
There is a nationwide shortage of football stewards that could become a crisis unless wages increase, the stewards' union has told SSN.
John Newsham, the Football Safety Officers Association's CEO, was stadium manager at Blackburn for 24 years.
"Retention of qualified stewards is a massive issue," he said. "All stewards have to be NVQ Level 2 qualified, and we are now asking them to do much more than they did 20 years ago.
"Some clubs pay living wage, some clubs pay minimum wage, it's down to each individual club. That has a bearing on retention. There is a national shortage of stewards across the country - at SIA and NVQ level.
"If they can earn £2-3 an hour more by working in a supermarket, why would they do it? This could become a crisis."
Newsham added: "They are now literally on the front line, putting themselves at risk, specially trained in terrorism prevention, and yet clubs typically pay them minimum wage."
Stewarding and policing at matches is under the spotlight following last Sunday's incident at St Andrew's where Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish was assaulted by a Birmingham City supporter.
On the same day, Chris Smalling was pushed during Manchester United's defeat to Arsenal, whilst a fan was arrested on Friday after confronting Rangers full-back James Tavernier during a 1-1 draw with Hibernian.
Meanwhile, Bill Bush the Premier League's Director of Policy, says the idea of trading police officers for stewards - who have no powers of arrest - will only hamper efforts to curb the growing concerns over fan behaviour.