Safe standing from January 1st

Martyn Ziegler reports in The Times that:

"After more than 25 years, fans are set to be legally allowed to stand at four grounds in the Premier League and one in the Championship. Experts in “safe-standing” are expecting a rush in the summer from other clubs in England’s top two divisions to install “rail seats” that will allow supporters to legally stand at their matches too.

Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Cardiff City will have specific areas where not only are fans allowed to stand, but they will also have the necessary protections in place with barriers or rails to prevent “progressive crowd collapse”.

The five clubs have committed to providing safe-standing for home and away fans. The numbers vary but at Tottenham’s new stadium there should be licensed standing for more than 10,000 supporters, including 7,000 in the South Stand.

Jon Darch, who has run the Safe-Standing Roadshow and has campaigned for the Football Supporters’ Association, said: “Quite a few more clubs have it on the radar for next summer. I would expect to see a number of clubs doing some kind of safe-standing installation next summer.”

Wolverhampton Wanderers have some rail seating and initially applied to be an early adopter but withdrew their application due to the requirements for away fans.

In years to come, clubs in England and Wales may reflect the set-up in Germany, with a third of a stadium given over to safe-standing — for example, Borussia Dortmund’s stadium has 53,675 seats and 27,589 safe-standing places."

How will safe-standing work?
Safe-standing areas have seats incorporating rails or barriers. These seats should flip up automatically so that if no one is sitting on them they are in an upright position.

What is the timetable for this development?
Five clubs who have applied to be “early adopters” should be licensed for safe-standing areas from January 1, with legislation changed to allow other clubs in England’s top two divisions to have similar areas from next summer onwards.

Can the seats be locked in an upright position?
Not in England and Wales; they have to be able to flip down if the fan wants to sit. The seats can be locked upright and down in Scotland, which has different legislation and where Celtic have that kind of rail seat installed. That does allow more space for standing but at least one manufacturer now has a flip-seat which is completely concealed in the frame.

Why should there be seats at all if it is safe for standing?
Some competition organisers such as Uefa and Fifa require all-seat stadiums for their competitions. The British government would almost certainly not have entertained changing legislation around safe-standing unless seats remained an option.

How much does it cost to install seats with barriers or rails?
The cheapest versions start at £60 to £90 per seat but the more comfortable the seat, the more the price rises.

Is there a risk that old stadiums could actually have a smaller capacity for standing fans than seats in the same area?
Potentially — although old stadiums can have very narrow spaces between the seats and there have been situations where if everyone stands then people spill out into the aisles. Ken Scott of the Sports Ground Safety Authority says that would affect capacity — but that of those clubs who have applied for safe-standing areas in January those issues have already been sorted out, so capacity will remain one standing fan per seat.


Martyn Ziegler's full article can be found here: