Trespassers cause ‘significant damage’ to historic London theatre amid Sunday football chaos

15 July 2021, 17:01 | Updated: 15 July 2021, 17:03

London's Wyndham’s Theatre stormed on Sunday
London's Wyndham’s Theatre stormed on Sunday. Picture: Cameron Mackintosh Limited

By Kyle Macdonald

On Sunday, thousands of football fans descended on London’s historic West End, causing tens of thousands of pounds of damage to one grade II listed theatre.

British producer and theatre owner, Sir Cameron Mackintosh has written to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to express his “distress and astonishment” at the lack of policing and crowd management surrounding Sunday’s Euro 2020 final in London.

On Sunday, football fans gathered in London ahead of the final between England and Italy. Crowds formed in streets and parks, and in particular in the West End, home to the capital’s many theatres.

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In his letter, Mackintosh writes: “Around 50 people broke through fencing at Wyndham’s Theatre and climbed on to the delicate canopy of this 19th century, grade II listed building in the heart of the West End.

“Police appeared insufficiently resourced to deal with this vandalism and the danger posed to trespassers, and it was only later that riot police finally arrived.

“Significant damage was inflicted on the theatre, with repairs estimated in the tens of thousands, and the incident could easily have resulted in serious injury or fatality.”

Though many theatres and concert halls are still having to operate at significantly reduced capacity due to social distancing, 67,000 fans attended the final itself at Wembley.

Mackintosh called Sunday’s events a "grim metaphor” for the way the government has treated theatre and the arts since March 2020.

“Time and again, and in stark contrast to other industries... we have simply been left to fend for ourselves.”

He also cited the “crippling uncertainty” caused by what he terms the “unworkable isolation rules and unobtainable insurance for his industry.”

England fans leave a trail of litter across London's Leicester Square.
England fans leave a trail of litter across London's Leicester Square. Picture: Getty

UEFA says it is launching an investigation into events involving supporters inside and around Wembley Stadium during Sunday’s Euro 2020 final.

The Metropolitan Police said they made 49 arrests on Sunday in London for a “variety of offences” and that 19 officers were injured.