KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING: Today is one of the most important days in the history of English football, a day in which the game’s place and role, reputation and status within society – and society’s reflective attitude – are laid bare as never before. Finally, the long-awaited report into the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster, produced by an independent commission set up by the last Government will be released, firstly and properly to the families of the victims.

The Hillsborough panel, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, has examined 400,000 pages of files from more than 80 organisations including, it is believed and hoped, the government’s Cabinet Office.

Uncomprehending police see the disaster unfold / Picture by ROBIN PARKER of Fotosports International

Speculation in advance has suggested the report will reveal that senior police  ‘doctored’ reports and evidence to blame the fans when the police were themselves largely to blame. The decision of the coroner to set a concluding time of death of 3.15, and effectively deny inquiries into the roles of the specialist services, is likely to be questioned.

On a political front, there are likely to be calls for Prime Minister David Cameron to issue a formal apology, on behalf of the entire country, to the families of the victims who died in a crush just before the scheduled kickoff of Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest in Sheffield.

The Hillsborough disaster led to the immediate scrapping of fences in all British football grounds and, in due course, the Taylor Report which produced:

1 – all-seater stadia
2 – new, exemplary methods of crowd trouble
3 – the introduction of special training for football stewards
4 – the removal of uniformed police from inside stadia

and thus the foundation on which has been built the Premier League as the world knows it, the most popular domestic football competition around the world.

At what a price.

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