An East Lancashire professional football club which received a one star food hygiene rating last year has improved to a five star rating following a re-inspection. 

Accrington Stanley Football Club, in Livingstone Road, Accrington, was inspected by the Food Standards Agency on November 20, 2021, and was given a one star hygiene rating - one of the lowest ratings a premises can get, meaning hygiene standards were poor or very poor with urgent and major improvement necessary.

The Lancashire Telegraph submitted a Freedom of Information request to Hyndburn Borough Council at the beginning of April, after the inspection result was published and before the club was re-inspected, asking for the report into Accrington Stanley's one star rating to find out why the club had received such a low score.

However, Hyndburn Borough Council refused to release the report as the venue had been re-inspected on April 23 - ten days after the FOI request was submitted - and has since received a five star rating.

News publications - and any member of the public - that wishes to get hold of a food hygiene inspection report for a business must submit an FOI request for it.

The reasons stated for not releasing the original one star rating report were: "The report requested is no longer relevant and it would not be in the public interest to release.

"Having applied the above tests it was considered that on balance the Food Hygiene Report dated November 20, 2021, should not be released as the report has been replaced by a more up to date report carried out on April 23, 2022, and is therefore no longer relevant to the current hygiene position.

"It was considered that, on balance, the release of this report could cause reputational damage to the business when the report was no longer relevant and could therefore affect customer confidence and impact the commercial interests of the business.

"This email, therefore, acts as a Refusal Notice in respect of the Food Hygiene Report dated November 20 2021."

The council did release the five star rating report though, which details how inspectors audited all areas of the venue and gave informal advice to the managers. 

The FOI response sent to the Lancashire Telegraph from Hyndburn Council continued: "In respect of your request for the Food Hygiene Report dated April 23, 2022, after application of the public interest test and on balance, it was considered the release of the details of the most up to date inspection would serve the public interest in respect of openness and transparency and for the protection of the public."

The report stated in the areas of 'hygiene' and 'structure', the club was 'compliant at the time of visit', while all the relevant sections of the food safety management systems needed to be completed.

A spokesperson for the club said: "Accrington Stanley are delighted to have been rated five star by the Food Standards Agency for the Wham Stadium, including the new £2.5m hospitality and bar venue which opened in March this year. 

"The club were given a one star rating in November 2021 but that was before the new facilities opened."

Managing Director David Burgess said: “The one star rating was for match day food kiosks only as we had no hospitality at that time with the new building, containing Coley’s and the 1968 Lounge, being built. 

“The rating was not linked to poor food preparation or service but was due to lack of up-to-date paperwork which we have since rectified. 

“Our new hospitality and bar opened in March this year and the Environmental Health Agency arrived on April 23 unannounced, the last home game of our 2021/22 season. 

“There were more than 170 people in our hospitality suite when they arrived, there was a two hour inspection, including bar and hospitality and all our concourse food kiosks, and that’s when we were give a five star rating which we are absolutely delighted about.” 

Alongside the usual matchday fare, Stanley also offer hospitality packages and events bookings for conferences, weddings and family celebrations which includes a three course meal prepared at the ground.