A recent report released by the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) shows that standing options—such as rail seats and seats with barriers—have improved safety in the topflight.
The research is part of the British Government’s commitment to reform the all-seater legislation, in line with its manifesto commitment before December’s general election.
Sports Ground Safety Inspectors will be visiting several grounds over the course of the season and will report back to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) with their findings.
Chief executive of the SGSA Martyn Henderson said: “Our research is providing new insights into the positive impact that installing seats with barriers can have on crowd safety.”
“The research is ongoing and we will publish the final report at the end of season. In the meantime, we will work closely with the Government on the implementation of its manifesto commitment to introduce safe standing.”
The sports minister Nigel Adams, who last month confirmed the Government would be moving quickly to change the law, welcomed the early findings from the SGSA.
“As we made clear in our election manifesto, we will work with fans and clubs towards introducing safe standing at football grounds,” Adams said.
“Over a million people watch live football at a ground every week, and having spoken to fans across the country, I know that safe standing is an issue many feel passionately about.”
“However, it is imperative that football remains as safe as it has become over the past 25 years. Robust evidence that this change will provide equivalent or improved safety for supporters, will be absolutely paramount to this process.”
“There is more work that needs to be done. The SGSA is continuing to gather evidence over the course of this season, and I have asked them to work with the relevant authorities to consider next steps as we work with clubs and fans to introduce safe standing.”
Various standing options exist across the English pyramid, including the top two divisions. In the Premier League, Wolverhampton Wanderers have installed more than 5,000 in the south stand at Molineux while Tottenham Hotspur have seats with barriers in two sections of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. In the Championship, Brentford have retained terraces at Griffin Park.
Shrewsbury Town became the first team in English football to install rail seats back in 2018.
Peter Daykin, who leads the FSA’s standing campaign, said: “We’re getting ever closer to seeing licensed standing areas return to clubs across the Premier League and Championship. It’s entirely appropriate that the Minister and SGSA take all the time they need to deliver the choice to stand safely and in a way that solves the issues caused by the all-seater legislation.”
“We’ll continue to make the case for different types of standing accommodation being available to all clubs and supporters. Many clubs in the EFL and beyond safely manage supporters in licensed standing areas and that should be one choice from a menu of options for local safety advisory groups to consider.”
“The SGSA’s ideas to give disabled fans the opportunity to participate in the fantastic atmospheres which standing areas can generate are very positive. The acknowledgment that away fans should be considered in this process is very, very important too.”
“Standing areas give supporters choice in how they watch their football, but also reduce tension between fans and stewards, and improve the atmosphere in football grounds across the country. More than ever before politicians and the football authorities now share those beliefs.”
Note: This article was originally published on the Football Supporters’ Association’s (FSA) website on 7th February 2020