September 23 – Fans are going to be allowed to stand at selected Premier League and Championship stadiums later this season for the first time in more than 25 years as part of a pilot scheme.
Britain’s Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) has invited clubs in the top two tiers to apply to become “early adopters” of safe standing from January 1, with the programme monitored for the rest of the season ahead of a likely change in the law on all-seater stadiums if it is judged successful.
Standing areas in what is now the Premier League and Championship were outlawed by legislation passed in the wake of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which led to the deaths of 97 Liverpool fans.
“We have been clear that we will work with fans and clubs towards introducing safe standing at football grounds providing there was evidence that installing seating with barriers would have a positive impact on crowd safety,” said sports minister Nigel Huddleston.
“With independent research now complete, and capacity crowds back at grounds across the country, now is the right time to make progress. I look forward to hearing from clubs who wish to be part of our early adopters programme during the second half of this season.”
Clubs must meet a range of criteria in order to gain approval. These include having the necessary infrastructure in both home and away areas of their stadium, allowing fans to sit or stand in the standing areas with the seats not locked in the ‘up’ or ‘down’ position, ensuring the areas do not impact on the view for other fans, including those with disabilities, and providing a code of conduct for standing fans.
Reports say Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, West Ham United and Manchester City are understood to already have the correct facilities to be part of the programme.
“We know many fans want the choice to stand and, with the advent of new engineering solutions, our research has shown how this can be managed safely,” said SGSA chief executive Martyn Henderson.
Football Supporters’ Association chief executive Kevin Miles welcomed the move. “We are beyond delighted to finally claim a win for the FSA’s Safe Standing campaign after extra time, penalties and more than a few replays and postponements!” he said.
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