Sunderland fans join campaign for safe standing areas at English football stadia

Standing at the match at Roker Park

Standing at the match at Roker Park

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SOCCER fans are calling on the Government to let them get back on their feet.

The Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) has launched a petition to get standing areas reintroduced at matches in the top two divisions of the English game.

Terraces were phased out following the Hillsborough disaster of 1989 in which 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death at the Sheffield ground in an FA Cup semi-final.

A survey carried out by the organisation found that 88 per cent of fans who prefer to stand at games, said there was a better atmosphere when standing rather than sitting.

A third said they felt that cheaper tickets would be an advantage of bringing standing back.

George Forster, chairman of the SAFC Supporters’ Association, said that although he felt atmosphere was better in the days of standing at the Black Cats’ former home Roker Park, he personally didn’t want it to return.

The 84-year-old said: “They should put this out to the general public. I still want my seat, but others do want to stand.”

Season ticket-holder Kevin Moeliker, 23, said he’d like to see standing sections make a comeback.

“I think the fans should be given a choice to stand or not,” he said.

“I remember Roker Park. There’s nothing like the games I went to there.”

The FSF pointed to how standing areas in stadiums in Germany had been successful.

Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the FSF said: “Our petition calls on the Government to listen to fans and not renew the legislation which prevents clubs in the top-two leagues from introducing safe standing areas into their own stadium. If they wish to do so, they should be allowed.

“This should be a matter for individual clubs in consultation with their fans.”

However, the Premier League have said they will oppose a return to standing areas.

Spokesman Dan Johnson said: “Our view is that the benefits of all-seater stadia far outweigh the return of standing areas.”

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: “The Government appreciates there are some supporters who would like to see the return of standing areas at football stadia, but does not believe a compelling case has been made to change the policy.”

Details of The FSF’s petition are online at www.fsf.org.uk.