Premier League fans now allowed to stand

Premier League fans now allowed to stand , Chelsea, Cardiff City, Celtic

Today sees the return of standing room with Premier League fans now allowed to stand at four clubs, more than 30 years after all-seater stadiums became the norm. Prior to the Hillsborough disaster back in 1989 standing was common at football games.

The New Year rule change, is a move that is designed to prevent another stadium disaster according to a top safety expert, has some clubs to be approved as early adopters of the change. These clubs already do have rail seating in place which fans will now be allowed to use.

The change will come as a surprise to some especially those affected by the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 in which 97 Liverpool fans were killed. The Taylor report that followed some years later concluded that police had failed to control the situation and recommended the conversion of all stadiums to seating only.


The change comes as Ken Scott from the Sports Grounds Safety Authority told Sky News: “What we can’t have is another disaster happening and the risks arising from people persistently standing in seated areas that aren’t designed for those people to stand is a real one.”

Continuing Scott said: “This (rail seating) is designed now to prevent the risk of what we call a progressive crowd collapse so it manages that risk but at the same time gives the fans the choice that they are expressing. It is really good that we have something in place now that hasn’t been as a result of a disaster or a tragedy occurring.”

As to be expected some Hillsborough campaigners and relatives had been against the idea but others believe that the experience of clubs in Europe and Scotland has shown that attitudes have changed and the problems experienced then are unlikely to occur now.

According to Anfield Wrap pocaster Gareth Roberts: “The Spirit of Shankly (supporter group) has done surveys, families have even been up to Celtic and have seen how it’s worked. I think some of the more hardened campaigners who were against it for so long they have had a change of mind now and they can see that it is safe.”

Roberts says he has tried the standing room section at Celtic and was hugely impressed by the atmosphere it created in the stadium. He said: “Straight away I felt much safer…you are standing up but you have got your space – you can’t fall backwards, you can’t fall forwards there is no domino effect.” He added: “You are giving fans the choice and that’s what fans have been asking for for years.”

According to Chief Constable Mark Roberts, who leads football policing in Britain that he and his colleagues weren’t against standing but said clubs have to make sure that fans stay in their designated spaces and don’t congregate in areas that are not designed for that purpose. He confirmed that standing can make policing at football more difficult saying: “We made recommendations that you shouldn’t have standing areas home and away fans adjacent to each other because that is a flashpoint.”

He added: “It is harder to identify people throwing missiles and pyrotechnics and who is shouting abuse, racist abuse. If people are stood up, it presents challenges for policing if you are going into potentially overcrowded areas to try and arrest someone in the middle of it.”

Chelsea have created over 12,000 safe standing spaces, whilst Cardiff City’s plans to offer standing room have been delayed by Government coronavirus restrictions which have banned fans from grounds temporarily.

Kevin Miles of the Football Supporters Association said: “I think people have waited for so long for this to happen that nobody wants to do anything to jeopardise it continuing,” adding that that it was now in the hands of the fans and the clubs as to whether safe standing is introduced to the other Premier League grounds.

“Fans are probably the people most interested in safety in football grounds because we are the ones who suffer when it goes wrong so fans have a vested interest in making sure this works.”

With Premier League fans now allowed to stand there will undoubtedly be concern in some quarters, not only because of the history but also the timing with virus infections at an all-time high in the UK.

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