10 April 2018
A number of changes have been made to the 2018 Varsity Series following a review between the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University and their Students’ Unions.
The changes have been made following concerns raised during the 2017 Varsity Series regarding behaviour of both spectators and players during certain fixtures, causing significant risk to the safety of everyone involved and the future of the Varsity Series as a whole.
As a result the following changes have been made:
- Ice Hockey will be a dry event, so no alcohol will be available to purchase at the Motorpoint Arena
- Alcohol will be on sale at Basketball, however drinks will not be allowed onto courtside. In addition a strict behaviour policy will be in place for courtside spectators.
- For Ice Hockey and Basketball, Block 10 in the seating area will be blocked out and not allocated to either UoN or NTU.
- Football will be played at Meadow Lane behind closed doors, so no general admission tickets will be made available for student or general public spectators.
- Club members have however been allocated free tickets and 4 free family tickets have been made available for each player in the varsity squad.
- Increased security and bag checks will be in place across a number of events.
The clubs affected by these changes have been informed of the decision and the Universities and Students’ Unions are working closely with them to make the necessary changes.
The Varsity Committee would like to note the professionalism in which the Football Clubs of both UoN and NTU responded to the changes. We are pleased to confirm that the Women’s Clubs have agreed to play the fixture, however unfortunately UoN Men’s Football Club have respectfully declined to play. As a result, the Men’s game is considered to be forfeited and the Varsity Series will begin 1-0 to Nottingham Trent University.
All decisions regarding changes to the Varsity Series are final, however the Nottingham Varsity Committee will review all fixtures at the end of the Series alongside the Universities and Students’ Unions.
In a joint statement from the Varsity Strategic Committee:
“Varsity is the pinnacle of many student’s sporting experiences whilst at university. We welcome the competitive nature of the Varsity Series and it is a fantastic experience for the teams and spectators taking part.
All players and spectators are expected to abide by the Varsity Oath which demands individuals to uphold the true spirit of sportsmanship, respect for our opponents, the facilities and communities in which the competition takes place.
Whilst these were incredibly difficult decisions, action had to be taken to safeguard the future of the whole series. This joint decision is focused on ensuring we have a safe environment and acceptable behaviour at Varsity.”
Statement by Sports Officer, Adam Pratchett:
“These were some of the most difficult decisions I have had to make during my time in office; however I am clear these changes are necessary if we wish the Varsity Series to continue in a safe and enjoyable manner.
We have seen a number of varsity series across the country be cancelled due to poor behaviour, and whilst as a committee we have had very robust measures in place for a number of years, poor behaviour by a minority of individuals has persisted at particular events.
As a student body we need to take a stand against antisocial behaviour to ensure the actions of a minority does not lead to the discontinuation of our incredible series.
To be clear, the future of Varsity is on a knife edge, and if there are any examples of poor behaviour this year, by either spectators or players, the university has made it clear they are prepared to cancel Varsity, even mid-series.”
Statement by University of Nottingham Campus Life Director, Andy Winter:
"Varsity is a much loved series of events for many of our students. The University of Nottingham supports the decision of the Varsity Strategic Committee to make these changes. It is important that everyone involved in the series, whether they are a participant or a spectator, does their part to make sure that Varsity takes place in a safe and respectful manner so that we can continue to enjoy the programme into the future."
What are the details of the review?
In response to incidents during the 2016, a behaviour management plan was introduced to mitigate the risks attached to events within the series. The introduction of this plan saw a reduction in incidents at events during the 2017 series – however, there were still examples of inappropriate behaviour from spectators and players that raised concerns for both institutions.
At the close of the programme for 2017, the Steering group reconvened to debrief the series overall and to discuss how inappropriate behaviour this year could be further addressed for the series in the coming academic year.
As a result of this debrief, a number of actions have been taken to address further issues of behaviour and to safeguard the future of the series.
Who is on the Varsity Strategic Committee?
Representatives from UoN and NTU University Sports’ Departments, Students’ Unions and elected Officers.
Do you treat other events/sports events in the same way?
Whilst we have treated all the higher risk events with the same level of scrutiny, the mitigating action varied across the events due to their specific challenges, whether due to the nature of the sport, venue or number of spectators.
Why were significant changes made to football?
Despite numerous warnings for a number of years both in online communications and at the venue itself, unacceptable behaviour occurred at last year’s event, which put the whole Varsity Series at significant risk. Due to the level of interest in the Varsity Fixtures, and the nature of the Meadow Lane stadium layout, it was not possible to take significant enough mitigating action to reduce the risk of a pitch invasion to a level that would ensure the safety of all players and spectators.
What about the money that would have been raised from the Varsity Football tickets?
Tickets for the whole Varsity Series have sold really well and the Series plans to breakeven.
With regards to Football, the Committee have agreed that the cost of hiring the Meadow Lane stadium (which has only just covered costs with ticket sales in previous years) will be covered for the 2018 Series, and will be reviewed following the completion of the Series.
Will Varsity be stopped?
The 2018 Varsity Series will occur with a number of changes to individual fixtures and the series overall. However if poor behaviour by spectators or players persists, the future of the whole Varsity Series is at significant risk.