Safe Standing In Football: Good or Bad?

Safe Standing In Football: Good or Bad?


Safe Standing In Football: Good or Bad?

Due to safety regulations, it is a legal requirement for clubs competing in the top two tiers of English football to have fully seated stadiums. Gone are the days when the terraces actually were terraces, and fans in the stands could freely move about during a match without having to bother fellow spectators sat down beside them. Back in the days where safe standing was aloud in the Premier League and Championship, the atmosphere in every stadium was electrifying, with a more ‘real’ touch added to these grounds. That’s not to say that this atmosphere has completely disappeared in these modern, fully-seated stadiums, but in some cases you cannot argue it has been somewhat diluted.

With the majority of fans across the country opting to stand up during the whole 90 minutes of a football match, regardless of the fact they have a seat to use behind them, is there any need for stadiums to be fully seated anymore? Many would say there isn’t. Just this week, Premier League outfit West Bromwich Albion had their proposal for a ‘safe-standing’ area to be introduced at the Hawthorns rejected by the government. This decision angered campaigners who argue that the law is now outdated: Peter Daykin, from the Football Supporters’ Federation said that “The legislation surrounding standing has always been terrible. It’s now ludicrous”. The government however believe that continuing with all-seater stadiums remains paramount in ensuring the “safety and security of all fans.”

The Hawthorns West Brom

West Brom’s application to implement safe-standing into the Hawthorns was this week rejected by the government.

Are all-seater stadiums really much safer?

In response to the governments’ argument that all-seater stadiums are a much safer alternative to safe-standing areas, many would say that having these standing areas is in fact much safer than having seats obscure the spectators when celebrating their team scoring a goal. Just last week we saw fans of both Manchester City and Manchester United injure themselves by falling over the seats placed in-front of them due to excessive celebrating at various points of the derby. In most cases, these fans would have had a beer or two, and in the heat of the moment it’s easy to get carried away and find yourself toppling over a row of seats during the celebrations with fellow fans. This could be completely eradicated however should seats in the more rowdy areas of a stadium be taken out and replaced by safe-standing rail seats.

There’s also no real need for seated areas in certain areas of stadiums, as almost every single fan in these specific sections remain stood up throughout the whole game. There is no doubting that the majority of a football stadium should remain seated (family stands and quieter, more subdued areas of the ground do require them), however there should be a section in each ground where the seats are replaced by safe-standing rails. This would then give fans the option to stand throughout, lean on the railings in-front of them and not have to be bothered by fellow spectators moving around throughout a match. It will also improve the atmosphere at these stadiums, giving a more humble, old-school feel to these modern grounds. Safe-standing is still allowed in the lower league’s, with absolutely no issues born from it, so why can’t it be used in the top tiers as well?

The majority of fans stand up when watching their team play in this day and age.

Does it work?

Safe-standing areas in football stadiums do work, you only have to look at Scottish giants Celtic to see that. The SPL Champions introduced safe standing to one of its stands back in 2016 in a move that has since proved to be a success. Celtic worked extremely hard to obtain a safe-standing licence from Glasgow City Council for the 2,900 capacity section, and strenuous negotiations took place between the club and Police Scotland to make it happen. Since they introduced it though, there have been no notable negative stories reported, with the only comments being that of a positive nature. Fans have even joked that it has helped them lose weight as you’re constantly up and active for 90 minutes each week!

Just this year, League One side Shrewsbury Town were the first English club to announce that they will be incorporating a safe-standing section within their stadium. 500 rail seats will be installed into the Salop Leisure Stand by the end of the season after the club met their £65,000 crowd-funding target in October. But with the club doing so well in League One at the moment, they could find themselves playing in the Championship next season which would mean they’d have to take out the safe-standing area after just three seasons (maximum term allowed for safe-standing in the top two tiers), should the law not change within this time. If the Shrews do miss out on promotion however, they will be the first club in the English Football League system to implement such a thing into their stadium, which could in-turn change the views of the government moving forward, should it be a success.

(Video Credit: Guardian Football)

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