It was 1989 – I was living in Germany and vividly remember what I was doing when the horrible news filtered down onto the BFBS TV airwaves. The Hillsborough disaster. A moment in time forever etched in my memory.
Post-Hillsborough came the Taylor Report, followed by an act of Parliament which made it law that the top English football divisions had to remove terracing in place of all-seater stadiums.
Technology has come on leaps and bounds over the last 30 years, and now, some consider its time the Government re-visited this topic and liaised with clubs who want to reintroduce safe standing within some regions of their stadia.
There are pros and cons about this delicate subject, but one person, Jon Darch is spearheading the campaign to bring back the terraces.
Who is Jon Darch?
Jon is a member of the Football Supporters Federation (FSF), who represents the rights of fans and the views of football supporters in England and Wales.
The FSF also work closely with GNC Broadcast Solutions, a company where Jon is the owner and his involvement for over 15 years has seen him run safe standing road shows to help promote rail seats.
Jon Darch told Vital Football….
“The Sports Minister clearly refuses to listen to the safety experts! The West Brom proposal was submitted by the Chair of the Football Safety Officers Association and backed by the club’s Safety Advisory Group, which includes representatives of West Midlands Police and of the government’s own national stadium safety body, the Sports Ground Safety Authority.”
“Despite all these expert safety practitioners agreeing that the club should apply for permission to enhance spectator safety by fitting rail seats, the Minister is flying in the face of this expert advice by suggesting that stewards should force fans to sit down!”
“She has now compounded her bizarre ruling on West Brom’s proposal by saying that fans calling for rail seating are just a ‘vocal minority’ and claiming that ‘there is no desire among the top clubs’ to change the status quo.”
Jon finished off by saying….
“Yet in the very same week Richard Arnold, the MD of Manchester United, told Andy Mitten in a piece for ESPN ‘We support it. We would like to implement it at Old Trafford if the legislation allowed it.’
Safe standing momentum growing fast as petition nears 100,000 https://t.co/WVm7jhOaQn
— Jon Darch (@SafeStandingRS) April 24, 2018
“As part of ongoing discussions about the possible introduction of standing in top-flight football, the Premier League is conducting its own research. The results so far suggest a majority of fans like the idea of standing areas in principle but only 5 percent want to stand for an entire match.”
“Additionally, the majority want the option of being able to stand and sit during a match. This subject is complex and nuanced and clearly requires more research looking at how standing areas might impact Premier League stadiums, overall fan experience at matches and safety standards. Taking this into account we understand and appreciate why the minister for sport would require far more evidence before considering a change to the current all-seater policy.”
“I can assure you that we do not consider the comments made this week to be the last word on the matter. We will continue to engage robustly with government and other relevant stakeholders to achieve the changes to the all-seater policy that our clubs seek. The government should not underestimate how popular a change in approach would be with the football-supporting element of the electorate.”
“The issue of supporters persistently standing in seating areas is one that affects all-seater football stadia up and down the country and threatens to compromise the safety of thousands of fans every match day. Something must be done to tackle this issue, and the introduction of an alternative such as ‘rail seating’ or other systems currently being developed to enhance safety should not be ignored. Safety Officers and Club Directors across the country are subject to legislative requirements, but this is one legislation that should be given careful consideration.”
“The safety of spectators must always remain paramount, but it seems that as we strive to improve standards of safety already achieved at our grounds, the Government is then choosing to ignore what may prove to be a safer alternative to standing in seated areas.”
— Matt Rush (@MattRush96) April 24, 2018
Would you like to see the Etihad introduce safe standing?