FA were advised to “not make admissions on liability”

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This morning The Football Association finally published a statement in relation to the report that was issued by the Hillsborough Independent Panel yesterday – they were last organisation associated with the disaster to do so.

Despite the disaster taking place at one of The FA’s matches – an FA Cup Semi-Final – they showed no regret and offered no apology.

That despite it being their choice to host the game at Hillsborough – despite the request of then-Liverpool chief executive Peter Robinson who had written to the FA appealing not to put fans in the Leppings Lane End after overcrowding problems the previous year.

And despite the stadium that they choose not having a valid safety certificate.

The reason though for their lack of apology or acceptance of culpability arrives in the form of a document revealed as part of the Panel’s report.

In the document – Notes by Freshfields Solicitors following telephone conversations with two officials – the FA are advised as follows:

“It went without saying the FA should not make any admissions on liability. Neither should they say anything that would prejudice the insurers’ subsequent conduct of any legal action. He said he was only mentioning to me on instructions. I said I would reiterate the point with the FA and I did not think the FA’s liability was likely to be an issue raised in the report. However I would make Graham Kelly and Glenn Kirton aware of the insurers’ comments”

Later it states:

“I said the points to note were that he [Graham Kelly] was not to say anything about else’s liability and certainly not to say anything about the FA’s liability”.

UPDATE: The FA chairman David Bernstein has issued his own personal apology:

“We are deeply sorry this tragedy occurred at a stadium the FA selected. I offer a full apology.”

“This fixture was played in the FA’s own competition, & on behalf of the FA I offer a full & unreserved apology.”

“It is a matter of extreme regret & sadness that it has taken so long for these findings to be published & the truth to be told”

Here’s is today’s statement from The FA:

FA Statement (13.09.12)

The Football Association commends the work of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

“Having thoroughly reviewed yesterday’s report in full, The Football Association would like to commend the Hillsborough Independent Panel for their exhaustive and professional work.

“It is also important that The FA recognises the tireless commitment shown by so many, particularly the Hillsborough Family Support Group.

“We welcome the publication of the report and the subsequent comments of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

“The FA reiterates its deep and ongoing sadness at the dreadful events that unfolded on 15 April 1989.

“The organisation’s thoughts at this time remains with the families of all those who lost their lives in such terrible circumstances, as well as everyone connected with the City of Liverpool.

“For 23 years the families have suffered unbearable pain, and we have profound sympathy for this.

“The FA has cooperated fully with the Panel throughout this process and has released all documentation in line with their request.

“The FA and English football has changed immeasurably, and has learnt many lessons in the last 23 years. Through advancements in safety and investment in facilities English football is now a much safer, more welcoming environment for supporters.”

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