Efford: No plans for policy change

22 May 2013 09:47

The campaign to allow standing areas at football grounds has won backing from all but one of the 22 npower Championship clubs but the prospect of a change in the law appears remote.

Shadow sports minister Clive Efford revealed that the Labour Party has no plans to get behind the campaign, despite the MP having personally backed safe standing areas in the past.

Efford believes the opposition of Hillsborough families to the campaign should be respected, especially as it is only recently that the inquest into the deaths of the 96 fans in 1989 has been reopened.

The Government has also made it clear there is little appetite in Whitehall for a change in the law making all-seater stadia obligatory in the top two divisions, despite a campaign being led by the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF).

Efford said the Hillsborough families' views had to be respected.

He told Press Association Sport: "It is too close to the time that the families of the Hillsborough victims have finally got justice. You can understand their reasons for that [opposing standing areas] and we are very respectful of that view. There are no plans under consideration by the Labour Party to review the policy at this stage."

Efford said it was clear that many fans already choose to stand at games rather than sit, and that if there were experiments they should take place in areas properly designed for standing. He stopped short however of calling for such trials to take place.

He added: "As someone who attends Championship games on a regular basis I see fans, particularly away fans, choosing to stand rather than sit in areas not designed for standing.

"So it is clear there is a body of opinion there should be safe standing areas. I do issue caution against rushing into this but if clubs do have experiments it must be in areas that are properly designed for that purpose."

Efford said clubs' first priority should be to improve access and areas for people with disabilities. The Championship clubs voted overwhelmingly in favour of safe standing areas, such as rail seats of the sort used in Germany. The FSF sent a factfinding mission to Borussia Dortmund last weekend to see the standing areas in use.

Source: PA