Hillsborough group condemn plans to bring back terracing

23 March 2011 06:30
Proposals to bring back standing areas at football grounds have been blasted by the Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG).

The Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) have launched an online petition calling for the return of standing areas in the top two divisions of English football.

The campaign already looks to be foundering however, with the HFSG and Premier League opposing the move, and the Government saying there has been no compelling case to bring back terraces.

Tragedy: The horrific images from Hillsborough sent shockwaves throughout the world

Standing at matches in the top two divisions was banned following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, and HFSG chairman Margaret Aspinall said: 'The Hillsborough Family Support Group are totally against any form of standing whatsoever. We are absolutely against it and always will be.

'Our football clubs should remain all-seater stadiums. People always say they have standing areas in Germany but we don't play any part over what happens in that country - we just believe there's no such thing as safe standing in this country.

'We will not be encouraging the Government to change the law.'

Sports minister Hugh Robertson, at a meeting with the FSF, football authorities, police and the Football Licensing Authority on Monday night, said he would examine the evidence for safe standing.

Up or down: Fans often stand up for most of the 90 minutes while watching their team despite having a seat

His main issues were whether standingareas would be able to be built into stadiums, how they would be policed and whether there is sufficient demand in the first place.

But Premier League chief spokesman Dan Johnson said: 'Our view is that the benefits of all-seater stadia far outweigh the return of standing areas. They have led to more women and more children attending the games and no matter how safe standing can be made, seating is always safer.

'We will not be encouraging the Government to change the law.'

The issue of allowing some standing areas has been revisited a number of times since all-seater stadiums became compulsory in 1994.

Kate Hoey tried to back a scheme when she was sports minister in 2001 but the-then Government blocked it.

        HAVE YOUR SAY.     Should standing areas return to our top football grounds? The Premier League insist they will oppose moves to bring back standing areas at football stadiums after it was revealed the government will consider the reintroduction of terracing. What do you think about the proposal - is it time to change, or it that simply too controversial? TELL US WHAT YOU THINK At Monday's meeting, FSF chairman Malcolm Clarke argued that many fans already stand all match despite having seats which is viewed as a safety risk.

Clarke told the Guardian: 'Fans do believe they have lost something in the move to all-seating. We will be doing further research to respond to the concerns of those who are not yet convinced.'

Robertson said he would examine the evidence for safe standing but played down any likelihood of a change to the law.

The first time that a significant accident or crowd trouble took place on a terrace would have major repercussions.

Robertson told the meeting: 'The minister's head would be on a spike on Tower Bridge before he could draft a resignation letter.'

The Government say no compelling case to bring back standing areas has been made.

A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: 'Football grounds are safer and more comfortable than they were 20 years ago.

'All-seater stadia are the best means to ensure the safety and security of fans and have been a contributing factor to the increased diversity of those attending matches in recent years.

'The Government appreciates that there are some supporters who would like to see the return of standing areas at football stadia, but do not believe that a compelling case has been made to change the policy.'

The Independent Manchester United Supporters Association (IMUSA) want England to follow Germany's lead.

A spokesman said: 'All we are asking for is what we they have got in Germany, what is tried and tested and what they have enjoyed for decades.

'The injury figures are so low they do record them but there is nothing to record. People do not get injured.

'We think the Premier League objection is part of their general ethos, they don't care if it will make our experience better. They are just prepared to ignore that, all they want is our money.

'They are perpetuating the myth that Hillsborough was to do with standing when it was not.'

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 Explore more:People: Hugh Robertson, Malcolm Clarke Places: Germany, United Kingdom, Tower Bridge

Source: Daily_Mail

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