Stand up for your rights – supporters step up calls for standing areas at football matches

David McManus and Michael Brunskill at the Safe Standign Roadshow at the Stadium of Light
David McManus and Michael Brunskill at the Safe Standign Roadshow at the Stadium of Light
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SUPPORTING is growing for a return to standing at professional football matches, it has been claimed.

The national Football Supporters’ Federation, which is based in Ashbrooke, hopes the call for standing areas to be brought back will be given serious consideration.

Peter Daykin, its safe standing campaign co-ordinator, said: “There’s a real head of steam gathering behind safe standing and we hope those in positions of power take note.

“It’s not just fans who would like safe standing areas, so would many of the industry’s leading figures.”

The move to all-seater stadia followed Lord Justice Taylor’s Report of the Inquiry into the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989, in which 94 people died.

He recommended that all grounds in the old First and Second divisions of the Football League should be all-seater by August 1994, and that clubs in the former Third and Fourth divisions of the should be all-seater by August 1999.

But in recent years there has been a clamour for the introduction of some form of safe-standing terrace areas at grounds.

The national Safe Standing Roadshow recently visited the Stadium of Light.

The group demonstrated how its believes safe standing can work, by showing a small-scale model of the rail seating system which is currently used in the German Bundesliga.

Jon Darch, who manages the roadshow, said: “Many Premier League and Championship grounds are all-seater in name only, with many fans taking it for granted that they will stand regardless.

“The creates an unnecessary headache for safety professionals, and inconveniences other spectators who prefer to sit.

“The solution is properly designated standing areas fitted with rail seats.
 “This would enable fans who want to stand to do so in complete safety, ensuring that those who prefer to sit are not inconvenienced.”

In a recent interview with fanzine A Love Supreme, SAFC safety manager Paul Weir said he has to stick by regulations and ensure fans sit down during matches, which doesn’t make him popular with those who prefer to stand.

However, he added: “That said, I’m open-minded about possible future changes, and if the regulations let us, then as a club we would like to give fans who want to stand the opportunity to do so in a safe, appropriately designated area.

“The rail seats concept looks interesting and if the rules allowed it I’d be happy to manage standing fans in such areas.

“We will however, be guided by our governing bodies on the matter.”

Bob Symns, chief executive of Peterborough United, earlier this month came out in support of safe standing.

He even offered the use of his club’s London Road ground to trial safe standing areas should it be allowed through Parliament.

His counterpart at Aston Villa, Paul Faulkner, has also said that he would support the proposals.

Twitter: @davidallison88