The CAS Trust supporter survey conducted over the last three weeks demonstrates that a majority of Charlton fans would like to see a safe standing area introduced at The Valley.
The survey attracted just under 800 respondents. Of these, 46% felt that they did not have sufficient information about safe standing to express an opinion for or against. This left just over 400 respondents
78% of these respondents supported the introduction of a safe standing area.
There was a clear correlation between age of respondent and enthusiasm for safe standing:
87% of respondents under twenty five were in favour.
85% of respondents under thirty five were in favour.
74% of respondents over 45 were in favour.
64% of respondents over sixty five were in favour.
Women were marginally less in favour than men (76% : 78.5%).
The high percentage of supporters who felt that they were not sufficiently well-informed to express an opinion reinforces the CAS Trust view that a promotion and information campaign is called for. We are currently discussing with the club the idea of hosting a safe standing road show at The Valley early in the new year.
The main reason given by respondents in support of safe standing was that it would improve the atmosphere and reduce the cost of attending matches. The main reason for opposition was a fear that it would open the way for anti social behaviour.
The Football Supporters Federation dispute this:
"Standing has long been connected to hooliganism, but without any evidence to link one with the other it is impossible to know whether the very welcome improvements in the behaviour of English fans have come about as a result of better policing, stewarding, improvements in crowd-control technology like CCTV and rising ticket prices rather than the disappearance of standing. Again, we would welcome an evidence-led debate on the issue and that is why we’re calling for a trial of safe standing areas."
Matchday commander of West Midlands Police, Superintendent Steven Graham, refuted in 2012 the claim that standing necessarily leads to disorder. He told MPs, journalists and football experts: “If you put a decent person on a terrace, they’re a decent person. If you put someone with criminal intent in a seated area, they’re someone with criminal intent who may misbehave. To say that just because you put someone in a standing area, they will misbehave, is fundamentally wrong. The person who jumped on the ground at Hillsborough and assaulted the goalkeeper [Sheffield Wednesday’s Chris Kirkland] did so from a seated area. It wasn’t the fact they were in terraces that made them behave like that. They behaved like that because they’re morons. They behaved like that because they’re criminals.”
Shrewsbury Town have now raised through crowd funding sufficient funds (£65k) to install a safe standing area at their ground. They are now seeking a certificate from their Safety Advisory Group and they hope to have safe standing in place before the end of the season.
At present, The Valley is a "designated all seater stadium" and Charlton would not be permitted to install a safe standing area at The Valley until relevant legislation was enacted.