The “safe standing” debate has taken centre stage again today with the revelation that the Football Association is backing proposals for this to take place in the Premier League and Championship, despite it being considered unacceptable by the 1989 Football Spectators Act.
In recent times, a number of clubs have put forward proposals to emulate the experiment which has taken place at Parkhead, Glasgow, where Celtic have been purveyors of the rail seating option. The most notable as far as the top two divisions are concerned was put forward by West Bromwich Albion last season, whereby the Baggies seemed prepared to allow an experiment including up to 3600 rail seats to be carried out at the Hawthorns.
You will recall that this was shot down in flames by Sports Minister, Tracy Crouch, although there does appear to be some ongoing dialogue in this respect. Ms Crouch has sanctioned an external analysis of evidence in relation to the all-seater policy and the findings are expected to be revealed by the end of the year.
A survey carried out by the Football Safety Officers Association (@fsoa)concluded that many Stadium Safety Officers in the top 2 tiers of football in England regularly have to contend with spectators standing in seated areas and although this is frowned upon by local Safety Advisory Groups and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, there is no evidence to suggest that injuries to spectators at football grounds have taken place as a result of standing in seated areas. It was however noted that much of this takes place around segregation lines.
Support seems to be growing for freedom of choice in our stadia, with 94% of a recent survey carried out by the EFL and 70% of a similar survey the Premier League backed the idea of choice.
It would be interesting to see where VMC readers stand on this debate. If you have any strong views, for and against please leave a comment.