Why there is no reason NOT to allow safe standing at the Stadium of Light

Let’s come straight to the point. There is no good reason why safe standing should not be permitted in all football grounds.

Thursday, 4th July 2019, 4:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th July 2019, 5:30 pm
Safe standing area at the 60,000 capacity Celtic Park

The law as it stands is quite farcical. All-seater stadiums are mandatory in the top two leagues, but not below. This is because, generally, there are bigger crowds higher up the football pyramid.

This seems to suppose that a crush could ensue if seating was removed from a large stand containing 10,000 people, but impossible in a small stand containing 1,000.

The farcicality of the law is currently exacerbated by the respective ground capacities of Bournemouth in the top tier and Sunderland in the third.

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Safe standing at the HDI Arena in Hanover, Germany

Rail standing, whereby steel rails are bolted down immediately before and behind standing spectators, is being considered by SAFC and it can actually be safer than seating.

This is because, in reality, many fans eschew their seats to stand and are consequently more likely to fall without rails. The danger is heightened if supporters have drinkies beforehand (apparently this is fairly common).

The practice of standing in seated areas by visiting supporters is plain selfish. If a few people insist on standing, everyone is forced to do the same; or be unable to see the game.

This shows a complete disregard for the very old, the very young, the short, the bad-backed or those who simply want to use the seat they’ve paid good money for. It creates tension too.

Safe standing would remove the problem; as long as (reasonably priced) seating was still available for those who prefer.

Rail standing has been used successfully at Shrewsbury, but also in massive arenas at Celtic and in the USA, Germany and Australia. It works.

Sunderland could easily introduce standing in their Roker End, where everyone stands anyway; legally too in League One. Putting seating back if they are promoted, to comply with the current peculiar law, would not require an engineering miracle. The only hindrance should be cost.

We all know why the seating law was passed. In hindsight, anyone who regularly attended football matches in the 1980s can tell you that Hillsborough was waiting to happen. Standing then was not safe. All-seating would have prevented the disaster.

So would rail standing.