Building control chiefs order stadiums to detain supporters to prevent the spread of infection.
Football supporters will be held in stadiums in the event of terrorist attacks using biological weapons, under rules to be imposed on clubs and other sports organisations by local authorities.

Core Cities, the national body representing local authority building control officers, agreed last week that football clubs must have adequate crowd containment plans in place before safety certificates are awarded.

The decision to impose these rules came to light as the government announced that it intends to vaccinate key medical and military personnel against smallpox.

The crowd containment ruling has been made so sports fans can be decontaminated quickly and efficiently after an attack, say experts at Core Cities.

Trevor McIntosh, stadium safety group chairman at Core Cities, said the decision to prevent people leaving a stadium had been taken to ensure the safety of the wider public.

He said each stadium's contingency plan, drawn up with the emergency services, would have to include provision for the containment of fans; compliance would be a precondition for the award of a safety certificate.

It’s ridiculous. If chemicals leaked I’d be out like a shot

Stephen Childs, West Ham fan

He added that if there was a good reason not to impose the containment requirement, stadium authorities would need to gain approval for an alternative plan.

In all other cases, a containment plan would be imposed.

McIntosh said: "Where only a certain section of the ground is identified as having been attacked, then only that section of the ground would be contained."

He said the idea that crowds could be evacuated and decontaminated outside grounds had been scrapped. Containment plans will be explained to the public, but their details will remain confidential.

Architects said this week that the proposed changes could alter stadium design and lead to higher costs. David Keirle, chairman of architect KSS, said risk assessments would be reviewed.

If fans wanted to get out, nobody could stop them

Peter Bennett, West Ham fan

He said: "Currently, stadiums are designed to have the quickest possible evacuation.

"If the situation has to change to accommodate the issue of containment then stadiums may cost more to design and build."

  • Andy Hurst, managing director of Birse's stadium division, has left the firm after a restructuring. In future, Birse's regional managing directors will take responsibility for stadium projects in their areas.

    The voice from the terraces
    Two supporters' opinions on the bioterror plans at Upton Park on Monday night.

    "It's ridiculous. If chemicals leaked I'd be out like a shot".
    Stephen Childs, West Ham fan