St Albans City FC fined after volunteer tragedy

Clive Churchhouse. Photo: SACFC

Clive Churchhouse. Photo: SACFC - Credit: Archant

St Albans City FC (SACFC) has been fined after a volunteer fell to his death while working for the club.

Clive Churchhouse passed away on June 18, 2017, after falling through the roof of the east stand in the club's Clarence Park ground.

He had climbed up a ladder onto the fragile structure in order to mend it with wooden planks.

An inquest at Hertfordshire coroner's court in June last year ruled that the 71-year-old father's death was an accident.

Clive had lived on Down Edge in Redbourn and been a passionate supporter of SACFC since he was young.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found SACFC failed to ensure a suitable system was in place to authorise certain work, had inadequate supervision, and that volunteers had uncontrolled entry to the football ground.

The club pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £1,000 at Luton Magistrates' Court - on top of paying £1,000 in costs.

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However, SACFC director Lawrence Levy said the judge recognised the club's benefit to the community and that it is funded through himself and his co-director John McGowan.

SACFC does not make a profit - it lost £115,000 in 2018.

A letter from Clive's family was also read out in the hearing, which said they do not hold SACFC responsible for the tragedy and do not wish the club to be penalised.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Sandra Dias said: "This was a tragic and wholly avoidable fatality caused by the failure of the club in its duty of care towards volunteers.

"Employers who use volunteers have to ensure their safety, the same as if they were a paid employee."

Mr Levy said: "We are all very relieved that we can draw a line under this chapter, but there is still a sense of sadness at the loss of Clive's life.

"The judge recognised the importance of the club to the community of St Albans and the fact that its survival has been funded by its directors.

"He also recognised the input of the Churchhouse family. On behalf of the club, its supporters and anyone else associated with it, I would like to thank the Churchhouse family for their generosity towards the club in what has been a really difficult time for them."