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Should Safe Standing be introduced?

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A topic that is juggled about like a hot potato these days, I look at all sides of the argument if safe standing should be introduced?

Martin Rose

Safe Standing is something a lot of football fans would love to see in the modern game. However Lord Taylor of Gosforth called for stadia to become all-seater models in the wake of the Hillsborough tragedy that claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans in 1989. The Football Supporters' Federation have been urging the Football League and the Premier League to back the idea of Safe Standing. Despite being required to "sit down", fans both home and away continue to stand week in, week out in stadia across the country.

As many will have witnessed when they travel away to watch their team, a large number of fans stand throughout the game and when your team's fan travel in large numbers and all stand and sing as a unit, it is something to be proud of. For example, Man City away last year was a special day, not just because of the result but the 3000 Wigan fans that made the trip to Eastlands that day made it theirs. As the final whistle blew, as one we erupted in "Que Sera Sera". What a sight to behold. Atmosphere plays a big part of a "decent away day" and it's just not possible to cheer your team on whilst sitting down.

On several occasions over the past few years, we have seen fans boycott away trips due to the ludicrous prices that some of the "big clubs" charge. Man City 2 years ago were charged £62 a ticket at Arsenal and West Brom were charged £57 at Man City with large set of supporters from both clubs boycotted the games thus having the clubs returning large amounts of tickets. Germany and the Bundesliga seem to have the concept of ticket prices more or less perfected. German fans pack into stadiums week in and week out in large sets of numbers comfortably topping the Premier League each season but having tickets at considerably lower price making the games more open to the general public.

Last season Bayern Munich's cheapest ticket came in at £104, a massive £881 cheaper than Arsenal's cheapest season ticket at £985. Bundesliga's average attendance tops the Premier League by 10,000 creating a better atmosphere, a larger fan base, and a greater enjoyment of the game for everybody. The Signal Iduna Park (Home of Borussia Dortmund) packs in just over 80,000 each week with the famous Die Gelbe Wand (The Yellow Wall) that is home to 25,000 Dortmund fans in the largest capacity terrace in Europe. 800-1,000 Brits travel each week to Dortmund to relish in the atmosphere of one of the last great romances in European football. Maybe something that English football have mislaid in recent the years is putting the fans first allowing the supporters to inject a great amount of energy and raw passion into the game. Something we as Brits can only stand back and admire at.

So is it time to get back to the old ways of the game. As a once great footballing nation, not allowing fans to use voice their support and cheer on the team from a non seated position without having sour shins from leaning on the seat in front is ancient and backward which limits supporters greatly.

I would love to see safe standing introduced. It lets fans support their team in an authentic and passionate way. Our own little "Blue and White Wall" that we have in ES2 stand continuously week in, week out and are often the voice behind the team. Safe Standing areas would benefit clubs and supporters greatly both short and long term. Spectators will no longer worry about their view being blocked should they wish to sit whilst standing supporters can stand without that angry old man telling everyone to sit down. Whilst ticket prices would lower significantly, supporters can stand safely, effectively, and enjoyably. UEFA regulations require European games to be played in all seated stadia so the supposed plan of "rail seating" can easily convert standing to seating stadia. Don Foster of the Lib Dems who support the idea of Safe Standing had this to say:

"If fans want to stand, and clubs want to let them, we should at least explore safe ways of achieving it,"

Surely it would be safer for the away fans, and even certain sections of the home end to stand in ‘safe standing areas.’

The campaign is gathering momentum from the Football Supporters' Federation with clubs such as Aston Villa, Leeds United, and Cardiff City supporting the idea. Should the idea be introduced? Will it benefit an already decrepit English Football? Only time will tell.