Rail Seating looks to set the green light for Safe Standing at footballs highest level
Standing in Football stadiums has been forbidden in the Championship, and the Premier League since the legislation was passed after the 1989 Hillsborough disaster that claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans. But as most Premier League grounds and many others around the UK have lost their sound, a result of all-seated stadia. Most notable in Champions League games when usually the opposition fans are much loader than the home crowd, the interest of safe standing seems to be an option clubs want. Sometimes this isn’t the case as seen at Stoke and Anfield but there is an issue as Manchester United have already tried to find a way to boost the atmosphere with the trial of a Singing section at Old Trafford.
Bristol City on Wednesday had a demonstration to try to get Rail seating included in their redevelopment of Ashton Gate, as this summer Bristol Rugby Club will be moving to the ground. They are hoping on the success of the Football Leagues government-lobbing to change the legislation to then have two rows in the ground. Rail seats can be locked into an upright position to create rows of standing areas and creates a barrier in front. Rail seating is used successfully in Germany’s Bundesliga, and we’ve all seen the “Yellow Wall” of Borussia Dortmund.
Some will argue that we shouldn’t risk something like Hillsborough to happen again, as you can test these things but won’t know if it will fail until it’s too late. After watching the BBC Football Focus forums some believe that as we have had no problem with seating then it shouldn’t be changed. And these reasons have been why in the past there’s been no interest for standing regulations to be changed. But there has been a change of view by clubs more recently;
Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation, added: "What we were often told for many years is that none of the football authorities were in favour of it.
"But that is clearly no longer the case as the Football League, after a very thorough consultation, has shown that a large majority are in favour.”
I’ve also read on the BBC that Aston Villa’s operations manager Lee Preece was present at the demonstration and said that Villa would be interested in trialling the seats to help push the lobby, but also to get a view of seeing it in a Premier League environment. So if all is successful there could be a real option of standing returning to all stadia.
For me, with standing the benefit is more of a spectacle in the stands, singing or chanting becomes a lot easier, as you don’t have to worry about ruining the view for the person behind. Price would also be beneficial as more people could be included so the price might be cheaper.
The problem is still very much present though, as we’ve seen even with seated stadia when tempers are high and a team scores people still push forwards to try and get as close as possible to a player. It hasn’t resulted in anything yet, but it does happen. So with the reintroduction of standing this could lead to past events repeating which no one wants. Finally we have so many safety policies in place, do we need another to cause more issues.
Overall I’m still unsure over safe standing. I’m sure if it’s passed through after discussions and procedures I would welcome them. But there will always be Hillsborough in the back of my mind. Maybe for now only a small section of the stadium should be done to help create atmosphere and keep it to a safe and restricted number of people.
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